A Riparian Conservation Network to Develop Ecological Resilience
One of the most significant challenges to species conservation in the 21st century is how to foster species long-term survival in increasingly fragmented and dynamic environments of the Anthropocene. Going forward, land management actions must consider resilience – the ability of species survive through peak climatic-related events, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat loss. Habitat connectivity is a key attribute of resilience; yet, re-building connectivity has proven a difficult restoration task. Here, we propose building habitat connectivity through further coordinated efforts to protect and restore riparian ecosystems. Increased efforts to protect streamside areas further society’s acknowledgement that these lands provide key ecosystem services and can help further connect current protected areas to promote survival. We provide evidence that a riparian area network has the potential to connect existing protected areas, that significant riparian area conservation is already occurring and needs to be further coordinated, and that this solution is scalable through policy and administrative coordination rather than the initiation of new legislation.