A case for habitat-centric conservation strategy instead of flagship-species approach
Massive conservation projects have relied around single flagship species and the surrounding ecological niche that supports it. Conservation of giant panda, tiger, and bald eagle are examples of such a species-centric or flagship-species strategy for conservation. While such flagship-species approaches have helped conserve other species that are part of the ecological niche, this strategy fails to address holistic problems of habitat conservation across the globe. In habitats with discontinuity of conserved areas or patchiness of species distribution in a contiguous habitat, focus on a single flagship species would end up being detrimental for the conservation of biodiversity. Flagship-species approach can be a sink for expenditure, where more land could be kept aside for conservation, if we were not focussed on a flagship-species. We are proposing a new approach for conservation based on preservation of large contiguous habitats. Our proposal does not preclude monitoring endangered species but we expect the list to be dynamically updated and not focussed on few relatable species that are “cute” by human standards. This would allow conservation efforts to bear fruits for unnoticed but ecologically more significant microorganisms, flora and non-vertebrate animals, along with vertebrates that are usually the focus of current approaches.