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. Conservation translocations consist of (i) reinforcement and reintroduction within a species’ indigenous range, and (ii) conservation introductions, comprising assisted colonisation and ecological replacement, outside indigenous range.
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, often with massively adverse impacts.
Any translocation will impact and be impacted by human interests. Social, economic and political factors must be integral to translocation feasibility and design. These factors will also influence implementation and often require an effective, multi-disciplinary team, with technical and social expertise representing all interests.
Design and implementation of conservation translocations should follow the standard stages of project design and management, including gathering baseline information and analysis of threats, and iterative rounds of monitoring and management adjustment once the translocation is underway. This ensures that process and progress are recorded; changes in translocation objectives or management regime can then be justified, and outcomes can be determined objectively. Finally, translocations should be fully documented, and their outcomes made publicly and suitably available to inform future conservation planning.