Zoo BAPs: biodiversity action plans for conserving native wildlife in and around zoological gardens
Failure by the international community to meet Convention on Biological Diversity targets has heaped added pressure on national and local biodiversity action plans (BAPs). Zoological gardens are playing an increasing role in practical conservation of wild habitats, but zoos have rarely developed formal BAPs. Here we introduce the concept of zoo BAPs, i.e. strategic plans for the conservation of biodiversity in and around zoological gardens. We use the first formal zoo BAP, developed at Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo in the UK, to introduce a framework for the establishment, monitoring and re-evaluation of a Zoo BAP. Throughout the framework we emphasise stakeholder participation, particularly involving zoo staff and local government biodiversity representatives. Species and habitats must be selected that are locally relevant, and are either threatened or have value as indicators or flagships for conservation. Each species or habitat must have targets that can be measured, monitored, and then evaluated for annual revision of conservation actions. This kind of "adaptive management" should allow a flexible, evidence-based approach to conservation. Use of national and international frameworks for biodiversity assessment should also help zoos to become increasingly aligned with the international conservation community.
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