Designing Nature's Half: The Landscape Conservation Podcast

episode artwork

Rob Campellone and Tom Miewald

19 March 2024

47m 14s

Spatial Design in Landscape Conservation: An Interview with Hugh Possingham



Hugh Possingham, Professor of Mathematics and Professor of Ecology at the Unversity of Queensland, Australia, shares his expertise in biodiversity conservation, spatial planning and decision science in protected area networks, and Marxan, a spatial prioritization decision support tool. The discussion revolves around the ambitious global initiative “30x30,” which aims to protect 30% of Earth’s land and sea by 2030.

Key Points from the Episode:

  1. Spatial design is one of four key attributes of landscape conservation design, alongside convening stakeholders, assessing landscape conditions, and strategy design.
  2. Guest expert Hugh Possingham is recognized as a pioneering figure within conservation planning, specializing in spatial prioritization.
  3. Marxan software, created by Possingham’s team, has been instrumental worldwide in collaboratively identifying networks of priority conservation areas.
  4. Biodiversity loss remains a critical issue globally; effective management and representation are crucial components often overlooked in protected area systems.
  5. The challenge posed by invasive species highlights the importance of managing ecosystems effectively beyond merely establishing protected areas.
  6. Funding gaps for biodiversity conservation could potentially be filled through corporate accountability, where businesses contribute to being nature-positive as part of their sustainability goals.

Innovations & Insights:

  • Systematic Conservation Planning: This approach includes various steps such as problem definition, implementation, monitoring, and principles like representation and irreplaceability.
  • Multi-Disciplinary Stakeholder Involvement: Successful spatial design requires participation from non-specialists to decision-makers across different fields involved in landscape stakeholder processes.

Challenges Mentioned:

  • Declines in biodiversity continue at an alarming rate due to ineffective management practices that fail to focus on productive landscapes rich in species diversity.
  • There exists a significant funding gap between what is necessary for conserving biodiversity versus what is currently available through government grants and philanthropy.