ESR 31:147-161 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00755

Testing a recipe for effective recovery plan design: a marine turtle case study

Jasmine D. Roberts, Mark Hamann*

College of Marine and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University, Townsville QLD 4811, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Managing impacts to threatened species is challenging, because it is intrinsically linked to resources, knowledge, capacity and public and government will. A key tool often used in species conservation is a recovery or management plan. Yet all too often, plans are not designed for evaluation and not tested against quantitative criteria. Our study takes a novel approach to recovery plan assessment by assembling a worldwide database of recovery plans for a single taxon. We obtained 79 recovery or management plans for marine turtles and then designed criteria to assess and compare them for their ability to be evaluated and thus successfully implemented. We then used expert opinion of marine turtle specialists to weigh our 18 criteria. Overall, we found that the failure to adequately integrate adaptive management into plan design was a major shortcoming of marine turtle recovery planning (>90% of plans). Other common gaps included inadequacy of measurable objectives (75% of plans) and an absence of timelines (50% of plans). We highlight knowledge gaps relating to status trends, critical habitat and a lack of incorporation of social aspects such as stewardship and education. Our research underlines the importance of recovery planning from multiple scales and provides a step towards designing recovery plans that include SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound) objectives; scientific information; social aspects; and evaluation. We highlight the importance of national and multi-national planning processes to produce internationally relevant plans that will maximise conservation efforts for a globally threatened marine species.


KEY WORDS: Marine turtles · Recovery planning · Threatened species · SMART


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Cite this article as: Roberts JD, Hamann M (2016) Testing a recipe for effective recovery plan design: a marine turtle case study. Endang Species Res 31:147-161. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00755

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