Spatial management, including setting aside conservation areas, is central to curbing the global decline of biodiversity, but many threats originate from beyond the boundaries of conservation areas. This is a particular problem for marine and freshwater ecosystems, which are influenced by many activities on land. In addition, connections between terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems support many species and ecological processes valued for conservation. Primary goals include developing frameworks, methods and tools that incorporate ecological connections between terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems, and limit the impacts of cross-realm threats. This theme includes research projects that aim to inform conservation, natural resource management, and land and water use planning in Australia, Brazil, Fiji, Mexico and the Coral Triangle.
The need to integrate land and marine conservation planning has been pointed out by several studies, yet to date little emphasis has been placed on examining terrestrial management for achieving marine conservation objectives. Researchers of the Conservation Planning Group published a study that further advances land-sea planning through developing a method that can guide planners (at a resolution amenable to management actions) to prioritise areas for management or protection to achieve terrestrial and marine conservation objectives. The study proposes a method that integrates modelling of catchments, land-use change, and river-plumes with conservation planning software to prioritise management actions. While the modelling required to achieve land-sea conservation integration is complex and time-consuming, the study shows that it is possible and feasible, but also necessary to better guide conservation actions.