PROJECTING FURTHER INCREASES IN CONSERVATION TRANSLOCATIONS: A CANADIAN CASE STUDY

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Highlights • Conservation translocation is relevant to over one-third of Canadian species at risk. • Recovery documents suggest at least a doubling in future conservation translocations. • Vascular plants are most frequently recommended for conservation translocation. • Translocation-relevant species are more likely to be threatened by invasive species. • Insufficient detail in recovery documents hinders evaluation of effectiveness. Abstract Conservation actions are critical to mitigating the growing number of threatened species worldwide. Previous studies show a consistent increase in one highly targeted type of conservation action: conservation translocation (i.e. the movement of species for conservation purposes). Will this trend continue? To gain insights into effectiveness and future trends, we examined past and proposed uses of conservation translocation in species recovery efforts in Canada, where species are assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada and given legal protection and recovery plans under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). Our review of 541 SARA-listed species indicates 55 have already been translocated, 49 are recommended for translocation, and 99 are under consideration, suggesting at least a doubling in future conservation translocations. Overall, translocation was relevant to recovery efforts for 38% of SARA-listed species. Species in need of translocation overwhelmingly belong to the vascular plants, but relatively few plants have been translocated to date, suggesting capacity and expertise in plant propagation and transplantation will be important. Species listed as Endangered under SARA were most commonly translocated, but the effectiveness of translocations relative to other actions could not be assessed due to insufficient detail in Federal recovery documents. Our finding that conservation translocations are projected to increase substantially in Canada begs the question whether such trends will also occur in other countries, and whether alignment between conservation need, policy direction, scientific planning and financial commitments will be sufficient to meet such demand.