A Policy for Conservation Translocations of Species in Britain
(2003)
Joint Nature Conservation Committee on behalf of The Countryside Council for Wales, English Nature and Scottish Natural Heritage
McLean, I.F.G.,JNCC (Drafted by) on behalf of the Inter-agency Translocations Working Group
July 2003
Policy guidance published by JNCC with, and on behalf of, the statutory conservation agencies in England, Scotland and Wales

Executive Summary

 
The numbered paragraphs follow the respective numbered sections of the policy.
 
2. Introduction. In response to the launch of the Convention on Biological Diversity at the Rio 'Earth Summit', Target 36 of Biodiversity the UK Action Plan (Anon., 1994) is to "Update and publicise guidelines on translocations, re-establishments, introductions and re-stocking". This publication comprises part of these conservation guidelines, for those activities relating to the translocation of species for conservation purposes. Related translocation issues concerning non-native species are dealt with by the Review of Non-native Species Policy (Anon., 2003), while A Habitats Translocation Policy for Britain (JNCC, 2003) addresses the movement of assemblages of species that has been termed 'habitats translocation'. Translocation is a general term, which is defined here as the transfer by human agency of any organism(s) from one place to another. Conservation translocations can help to restore populations of declining and threatened species, and this policy seeks to establish a policy and procedures to conduct these translocations to a high standard in line with the 1995 IUCN Guidelines for Re-introductions.
 
3. Aims. The principal aims of this policy are to maintain British wildlife at favourable conservation status, to provide a process for carrying out species translocations that is based upon IUCN Guidelines that will support sound decision-making and help to meet UKBAP targets, to improve the means of taking decisions about species translocations for conservation purposes and to improve the acquisition and sharing of knowledge in this field.
 
4. Previous initiatives on biological translocations in Britain.. The history of previous initiatives to review biological translocations in Britain is summarised briefly, with references to selected policy and review documents.
 
5. International considerations. The statutory conservation agencies have adopted the 1995 IUCN Guidelines for Re-introductions as the international standard for carrying out species translocations for conservation purposes. The international obligations of the UK concerning such species translocations are summarised with reference to the relevant agreements and conventions.
 
6. Key issues in relation to species translocations for conservation purposes. Species translocations can help to reverse declines of threatened species, but when and where they should be used is debatable. This policy includes a process (Annex 1) and the IUCN Guidelines (Annex 2) as the framework for deciding when species translocations should be used for conservation, with the decisions to be taken by the appropriate UKBAP group. It should be noted that ranges of species alter naturally over time and that intervening against such natural changes is generally inappropriate and ineffective.
 
7. Legal issues in relation to species translocations for conservation purposes. The Wildlife and Countryside Act, 1981 applies to the reintroduction of formerly native species that are now extinct in Great Britain, and the licensing provisions for translocation of native species are indicated.
 
8. Policy and supporting procedures for species translocations for conservation purposes. The three main categories of species that can be translocated for conservation are first, species that have occurred in Britain in historic times but are now extinct in the wild here, second, native species where it is proposed to translocate within their current or recent range and, third, native species where it is proposed to translocate them beyond their current or recent range. The procedure for dealing with each of these categories is different, with the last to be treated as the introduction of a non-native species with the need for a precautionary risk assessment. The principles for assessing candidate translocations for conservation purposes are described, while the need is identified for additional guidelines to deal more fully with relocation of species threatened by development. It is the view of the statutory conservation agencies that relocation of species is not an acceptable alternative to in situ conservation, but where a development has been given planning approval, relocation should be considered as a means of partially compensating for the loss of the populations affected. The procedure is outlined for operating the policy for conservation translocation of species via existing groups responsible for these activities, notably the delivery of Species Action Plans for UKBAP.
 
9. Future data collection mechanisms. Systematic recording of species translocations for conservation purposes is required and existing recording schemes and the National Biodiversity Network should be used to collect and disseminate the resulting data and information.
 
*Members of the Inter-agency Translocations Working Group, who have participated for at least a period of time since its inception, comprise: Prof. M. Crawley (Joint Committee), Prof. W. Heal (Joint Committee), Prof. F. Last (Joint Committee), Dr. M. Howe (Countryside Council for Wales), Dr. R. Mitchell (English Nature), Dr. A. Douse and Dr. S. Ward (Scottish Natural Heritage), Dr. I. McLean (JNCC Support Unit).
 
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Please cite as: McLean, I.F.G.,JNCC (Drafted by) on behalf of the Inter-agency Translocations Working Group, (2003), A Policy for Conservation Translocations of Species in Britain, July 2003