Towards systematic and evidence-based conservation planning for western chimpanzees



Heinicke S, Mundry R, Boesch C, Hockings KJ, Kormos R, Ndiaye PI, Tweh CG, Williamson EA & Kühl HS (2019) Towards systematic and evidence-based conservation planning for western chimpanzees. American Journal of Primatology, 81 (9), Art. No.: e23042.

As animal populations continue to decline, frequently driven by large‐scale land‐use change, there is a critical need for improved environmental planning. While data‐driven spatial planning is widely applied in conservation, as of yet it is rarely used for primates. The western chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes verus) declined by 80% within 24 years and was uplisted to Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species in 2016. To support conservation planning for western chimpanzees, we systematically identified geographic areas important for this taxon. We based our analysis on a previously published data set of modeled density distribution and on several scenarios that accounted for different spatial scales and conservation targets. Across all scenarios, typically less than one‐third of areas we identified as important are currently designated as high‐level protected areas (i.e., national park or IUCN category I or II). For example, in the scenario for protecting 50% of all chimpanzees remaining in West Africa (i.e., approximately 26,500 chimpanzees), an area of approximately 60,000 km2 was selected (i.e., approximately 12% of the geographic range), only 24% of which is currently designated as protected areas. The derived maps can be used to inform the geographic prioritization of conservation interventions, including protected area expansion, “no‐go‐zones” for industry and infrastructure, and conservation sites outside the protected area network. Environmental guidelines by major institutions funding infrastructure and resource extraction projects explicitly require corporations to minimize the negative impact on great apes. Therefore, our results can inform avoidance and mitigation measures during the planning phases of such projects. This study was designed to inform future stakeholder consultation processes that could ultimately integrate the conservation of western chimpanzees with national land‐use priorities. Our approach may help in promoting similar work for other primate taxa to inform systematic conservation planning in times of growing threats.

Pan troglodytes verus; spatial planning; spatial prioritization; systematic conservation planning; West Africa; western chimpanzee

American Journal of Primatology: Volume 81, Issue 9

FundersMax-Planck-Gesellschaft and Robert Bosch Stiftung
Publication date30/09/2019
Publication date online29/08/2019
Date accepted by journal07/08/2019

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Professor Liz Williamson

Professor Liz Williamson

Honorary Professor, Psychology