Is Australia ready for Assisted Colonization? Policy changes required to facilitate translocations under climate change
Burbidge, AA and Byrne, M and Coates, D and Garnett, ST and Harris, S and Hayward, MW and Martin, TG and McDonald-Madden, E and Mitchell, NJ and Nally, S and Setterfield, SA, Is Australia ready for Assisted Colonization? Policy changes required to facilitate translocations under climate change, Pacific Conservation Biology, 17, (3) pp. 259-269. ISSN 1038-2097 (2011) [Refereed Article]
Assisted Colonization (AC) has been proposed as one method of aiding species to adapt to the impacts of climate change. AC is a form of translocation and translocation protocols for threatened species, mostly for reintroduction, are well established in Australia. We evaluate the information available from implementation of translocations to understand how existing policies and guidelines should be varied to plan, review and regulate AC. While the risks associated with AC are potentially greater than those of reintroductions, AC is likely to be the only available method, other than germplasm storage and establishment of captive populations, of conserving many taxa under future climate change. AC may also be necessary to maintain ecosystem services, particularly where keystone species are affected. Current policies and procedures for the preparation of Translocation Proposals will require modification and expansion to deal with Assisted Colonization, particularly in relation to risk management, genetic management, success criteria, moving associated species and community consultation. Further development of risk assessment processes, particularly for invasiveness, and guidelines for genetic management to maintain evolutionary potential are particularly important in the context of changing climate. Success criteria will need to respond to population establishment in the context of new and evolving ecosystems, and to reflect requirements for any co-establishment of interdependent species. Translocation Proposals should always be subjected to independent peer review before being considered by regulators. We conclude that consistent approaches by regulators and multilateral agreements between jurisdictions are required to minimize duplication, to ensure the risk of AC is adequately assessed and to ensure the potential benefits of AC are realized.