Back From the Brink: Refining the Threatened Species Recovery Process

Caution: archived content

This content may have been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.

Sally Stephens and Stephanie Maxwell (Editors)
Australian Nature Conservation Agency, 1996
ISBN 0 949 32469 8

Evaluation of Recovery Programs

Reviewing recovery programs for endangered species: some considerations and recommendations

Gary N. Backhouse, Tim W. Clark, and Richard L. Wallace

Implementing recovery programs for endangered species is one method commonly used for conserving biological diversity. These programs can be long-term and complex operations. Although many programs are now operating around the world, there are few signs of success, despite a steadily increasing number of endangered species. One important method for assessing outcomes of recovery efforts is undertaking program reviews. Reviews provide the opportunity to measure outcomes against recovery objectives, and can improve performance by early detection of problems and learning lessons from the review experience. Reviewing and evaluating some faltering recovery programs has been instrumental in improving their subsequent performance. A number of considerations for undertaking comprehensive reviews are presented, covering review types, integrating review into recovery planning, setting clear goals, stressing broad participation and involvement, using external reviewers, having all information available, undertaking a structured process, covering all aspects of recovery programs and documenting review outcomes. The application of a systematic approach can make the review process more comprehensive and aid other professionals in their own program reviews.

Down the track: a critique of recovery programs in Tasmania

Sally L. Bryant and Stephen Harris

In Tasmania, 59 threatened species recovery projects were written and/or implemented between 1990 and 1995. Of these 22 are still active. Most recovery projects have been successful in implementing their recovery actions but few have achieved the broader goals of increasing populations in the wild or reversing population trends. Some of the problems encountered and benefits to the recovery process are identified. Over 70% of the funding received has been directed to fauna programs, most of which are species specific. Changing our emphasis to include a landscape or regional approach is inevitable. So too is the recognition that species recovery is cooperative and must be supported by a range of other processes.

Realism in response to the ecological performance of populations in recovery programs

Peter J. Jarman

The shortage of completed species recovery programs means that we have little experience on which to judge the long-term progress of a reintroduced or protected population. Without established expectations, recovery teams may respond with either optimism or pessimism to changes in the target population. This chapter reviews some ecological theory to try to bring realism into recovery teams' responses. Individual organisms must be expected to perform less well in the wild than in well-managed captivity, growing, maturing and reproducing more slowly, and surviving less well. Populations reintroduced or protected at low density may grow initially exponentially, consuming accumulated resources; but that will not last. Using up the standing crop of consumable resources, they will fall back to the level sustainable by the productivity of those resources. Community composition and habitat parameters will also change. Without realism, any of these might be seen as a symptom of the recovery program's impending failure. Properly understood, they may in fact signal just the opposite. A realistic view is essential if the recovery team is to justify correctly their needs for on-going funding for the recovery program.