What is translocation?
True Nature Foundation follows the IUCN Guidelines for Reintroductions and Other Conservation Translocations in all projects involving animal translations.
According to the IUCN Species Survival Commission, conservation translocation is:
“the intentional movement and release of a living organism where the primary objective is a conservation benefit: this will usually comprise improving the conservation status of the focal species locally or globally, and/or restoring natural ecosystem functions or processes.”
Conservation translocations can entail releases either within or outside the species’ indigenous range. The indigenous range of a species is the known or inferred distribution generated from historical (written or verbal) records, or physical evidence of the species’ occurrence. Where direct evidence is inadequate to confirm previous occupancy, the existence of suitable habitat within ecologically appropriate proximity to proven range may be taken as adequate evidence of previous occupation.
Important criteria for translocations
IUCN Species Survival Commission recommendations include:
1. A conservation translocation has intended conservation benefit, but it also carries risks to ecological, social and economic interests.
2. There should generally be strong evidence that the threat(s) that caused any previous extinction have been correctly identified and removed or sufficiently reduced.
3. Assessment of any translocation proposal should include identification of potential benefits and potential negative impacts, covering ecological, social and economic aspects. This will be simpler for a reinforcement or reintroduction within indigenous range compared to any translocation outside indigenous range.
4. Global evidence shows that introductions of species outside their indigenous range can frequently cause extreme, negative impacts that can be ecological, social or economic, are often difficult to foresee, and can become evident only long after the introduction.
5. Conservation translocations outside indigenous range may, therefore, bring potentially high risks that are often difficult or impossible to predict with accuracy.
6. Hence, although risk analysis around a translocation should be proportional to the presumed risks, justifying a conservation introduction requires an especially high level of confidence over the organisms’ performance after release, including over the long-term, with reassurance on its acceptability from the perspective of the release area’s ecology, and the social and economic interests of its human communities.
7. In any decision on whether to translocate or not, the absolute level of risk must be balanced against the scale of expected benefits.
8. Where a high degree of uncertainty remains or it is not possible to assess reliably that a conservation introduction presents low risks, it should not proceed, and alternative conservation solutions should be sought.
Species translocation spectrum and decision support diagram
Conservation translocation is the deliberate movement of organisms from one site for release in another. It must be intended to yield a measurable conservation benefit at the levels of a population, species or ecosystem, and not only provide benefit to translocated individuals.
Translocation is an effective conservation tool but its use either on its own or in conjunction with other conservation solutions needs rigorous justification. Feasibility assessment should include a balance of the conservation benefits against the costs and risks of both the translocation and alternative conservation actions.
Risks in a translocation are multiple, affecting in many ways the focal species, their associated communities and ecosystem functions in both source and destination areas; there are also risks around human concerns. Any proposed translocation should have a comprehensive risk assessment with a level of effort appropriate to the situation. Where risk is high and/or uncertainty remains about risks and their impacts, a translocation should not proceed.
Translocations of organisms outside of their indigenous range are considered to be especially high risk given the numerous examples of species released outside their indigenous ranges subsequently becoming invasive – or alter vegetation communities and ecosystems – often with massively adverse impacts.