Conservation translocation - An increasingly viable option for managing threatened plant species
2019 CSIRO. Translocation is the establishment and augmentation of plant populations using ex situ material, and can reduce extinction risk. Historically, translocation has been considered to be high cost and high risk, but today, translocation is increasingly recognised as a necessary option for managing many threatened plant species. To examine the viability of translocation as a management action, we analysed the frequency of it being a recommended management action, its estimated cost over time, and its perceived likelihood of success as compared with other management actions. We did this using the 368 threatened plant species in the New South Wales state register of threatened species management strategies (the Saving our Species (SOS) database). Translocation was recommended as a management action for 30% of threatened plants (112 species), mostly in response to demographic threats (i.e. threats affecting species with small population sizes/restricted distributions, for example, environmental and demographic stochasticity or low genetic diversity). The estimated cost of translocation per species was similar to other common management actions. However, expert elicitation data (in the SoS database) indicated that translocation was less certain of a beneficial outcome, compared with almost all other management actions. Based on these findings, we create a decision framework, which uses the principles of extinction risk assessment to assist conservation managers in determining when translocation is most likely to be beneficial. We suggest that the use of translocation to mitigate the risk of extinction associated with small population sizes/restricted ranges is supported by the principles of extinction risk assessment. With a growing knowledge base, and costs comparable to other management actions, translocation is becoming an increasingly viable option for the conservation management of threatened plants, provided best practice guidelines are followed.