Who in the world is thinking about corridors?

If you had to guess which countries are thinking about corridors and connectivity the most, which would you choose?  Which might be thinking about them the least?

The answers may be surprising.  The 50,000 users of ConservationCorridor.org in the past three years have been far flung, from 6 out of 7 continents (where are you, researchers of Antarctica?) and from all 195 countries.  The statistics about site use can reveal interesting patterns about how, where, and possibly why people are thinking about corridors.  They can also highlight regions around the globe that should be targeted for more research, management, and communication, by this site in particular but also by the larger conservation and land management community.

So who is thinking about corridors?  The top ten countries most likely to use the site in the past three years, in order of highest use (% of all sessions):

1. United States (45%)

2. United Kingdom (7%)

3. Canada (6%)

4. India (4%)

5. Australia (3%)

6. Brazil (2%)

7. Germany (2%)

8. Mexico (2%)

9. Russia (1%)

10. France (1%)

And who isn’t looking up corridors and connectivity?  There are 69 countries who have visited the site less than 10 times in three years, including 15 with only one visit.  The countries with lower use rates are generally found in three areas:

  1. Caribbean (ex. Barbados, Grenada, St. Martin, Turks & Caicos)
  2. Africa (ex. Congo, Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Gabon, Togo)
  3. Middle East (ex. Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan)

What can we learn from these sorts of statistics?  They are a reflection of two things: countries that are interested in landscape connectivity, and countries that have the resources to be researching connectivity online.  The countries using the site the most have several common threads. The top five are all English speaking.  With the exception of Germany, France, and the UK, they all are large in area, with big regions of native habitat that are likely to be fragmented by growing populations.

But is this high traffic due solely to a low language barrier?  Is the high traffic from the United States because connectivity is more likely to be studied and applied there than any other country, or are we inherently biased in presenting science and management aimed toward the U.S.?  Are these countries using the site simply because they have the most reliable internet access?

In contrast, the countries with few visits are often small, non-English speaking, and with less of an online presence.  But they represent areas where perhaps the most work is needed.  In Africa (1.2 billion people), growing infrastructure that links the continent means that wildlife linkages are in increasing danger.   In the Middle East (218 million), rare species such as Asiatic cheetahs of Iran and the Persian wild ass may get lost due to habitat loss and fragmentation.  The Caribbean (14 million) includes some of the world’s most valuable aquatic habitat, including hundreds of Marine Protected Areas that would benefit from greater connectivity.

The largest disparity comes from Asia, where a large population does not translate to high usage.  China (1.4 billion people), despite having the world’s largest population living in highly urbanized and fragmented landscapes, contributes just over 1% of all sessions.  Indonesia (250 million) and the Philippines (98 million) each account for less than 1% of all sessions.  And Bangladesh (157 million) has over 2% of the world’s population but contributed less than 0.2% of all sessions.

We need better communication about corridors and connectivity with non-English speaking countries through research publications, management tools, social media, and popular science articles online.  We need to promote underrepresented areas with high potential for applying corridor and connectivity solutions.  We also need to highlight successful connectivity projects that can serve as examples to other regions of how corridors can be used in the landscape.

Ultimately the question remains: how can we do better?

Do you live in an underrepresented country and would like to contribute to ConservationCorridor.org?  Do you have a global story about corridors that we’ve missed?  Email us at corridor@conservationcorridor.org.

2017-03-19T23:15:12+00:00 February 27th, 2017|

About the Author:

Heather Cayton
Heather Cayton is the Managing Director of ConservationCorridor.org and a Research Assistant at Michigan State University. She received her B.S. from the University of Virginia and her M.S. from Virginia Tech, and has spent the past nine years studying corridors and rare butterflies in North Carolina.