WildArk100 Backs Charismatic Species Focus for Conservation Efforts

New research validates using scientifically proven ‘flagship’ species to benefit entire ecosystems.

Conservation not-for-profit WildArk has released a scientifically proven list of 100 threatened flagship species, and 50 global priority ecoregions that will help prioritise global conservation efforts.

The list named the WildArk 100, is based on a new international study, led by Australia’s Macquarie University alongside international partners including The Nature Conservancy, The Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology, and Oxford University, that uses an integrated approach to identify a global network of biodiversity priorities and the charismatic species that can be used for fundraising efforts.

Combining data on protected areas, the distribution of human impacts, globally unique ecoregions and the ranges of over 19,000 terrestrial and freshwater species, the team of world-leading conservation scientists was able to identify the most efficient network of locations that represent the greatest amount of biodiversity. The team then merged both sets of data into a custom framework that identifies priority places for conservation that also play host to suitable flagship species for maximizing fundraising efforts.

“Practically speaking, we created a way to prioritize a number of locations around the world that are most important for conserving the lands and water on which we all depend – from wildlife biodiversity to natural carbon storage – and then also identify charismatic species that could be used to direct increased fundraising into these critical landscapes,” explains lead scientist Dr Jennifer McGowan.

The study highlights examples including the Grizzled tree kangaroo (Dendrolagus inustus), a terrestrial kangaroo that spends most of its time in trees, the Resplendent quetzal (Pharomachrus mocinno) one of the most beautiful birds in the western hemisphere, and the Malayan sun bear (Helarctos malayanus) the world’s smallest and rarest bear, as unheralded species which could potentially play a significant fundraising role for their critical ecosystems in the future.

“Simply put, it’s time for us to put some science behind the species we use to market and fundraise for conservation – rather than framing our approach around what’s popular or seen as ‘cute’ by the public,” commented co-author Prof. Hugh Possingham, The Nature Conservancy’s Chief Scientist.

“This research directs our campaigns towards having the greatest impact on the ground, underpinned by the best science available,” says WildArk co-founder Sophie Hutchinson. “We are more confident than ever that with the Wildark 100, our global strategy sets a new precedent for organizations looking to leverage funding into important places to protect our precious biodiversity.”

WildArk hopes to share this list of species and places with conservation organisations around the world. The WildArk100 is available now and can be used by anyone to drive awareness that results in real outcomes on the ground in this critical time for global biodiversity.

Meet the WildArk100 or read the science.