Priority questions and horizon scanning for conservation: A comparative study

Salit Kark, William J. Sutherland, Uri Shanas, Keren Klass, Hila Achisar, Tamar Dayan, Yael Gavrieli, Ronit Justo-Hanani, Yael Mandelik, Nir Orion, David Pargament, Michelle Portman, Orna Reisman-Berman, Uriel N. Safriel, Gad Schaffer, Noa Steiner, Israel Tauber, Noam Levin

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16 Scopus citations


Several projects aimed at identifying priority issues for conservation with high relevance to policy have recently been completed in several countries. Two major types of projects have been undertaken, aimed at identifying (i) policy-relevant questions most imperative to conservation and (ii) horizon scanning topics, defined as emerging issues that are expected to have substantial implications for biodiversity conservation and policy in the future. Here, we provide the first overview of the outcomes of biodiversity and conservation-oriented projects recently completed around the world using this framework. We also include the results of the first questions and horizon scanning project completed for a Mediterranean country. Overall, the outcomes of the different projects undertaken (at the global scale, in the UK, US, Canada, Switzerland and in Israel) were strongly correlated in terms of the proportion of questions and/or horizon scanning topics selected when comparing different topic areas. However, some major differences were found across regions. There was large variation among regions in the percentage of proactive (i.e. action and response oriented) versus descriptive (non-response oriented) priority questions and in the emphasis given to sociopolitical issues. Substantial differences were also found when comparing outcomes of priority questions versus horizon scanning projects undertaken for the same region. For example, issues related to climate change, human demography and marine ecosystems received higher priority as horizon scanning topics, while ecosystem services were more emphasized as current priority questions. We suggest that future initiatives aimed at identifying priority conservation questions and horizon scanning topics should allow simultaneous identification of both current and future priority issues, as presented here for the first time. We propose that further emphasis on social-political issues should be explicitly integrated into future related projects.

Original languageAmerican English
Article numbere0145978
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Kark et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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