Mónica Lanzas defends her thesis on decision-making for biodiversity conservation in the context of climate change

15 September 2023

The thesis concludes that environmental policies and management must adapt to the dynamic nature of ecosystems and species, and that extending this integrated management beyond protected areas will be decisive.

Monica Lanzas, PhD student of the Environmental Decision Making group of the Landscape Dynamics and Biodiversity program at the Center of Forest Science and Technology of Catalonia (CTFC), defended the thesis “Addressing the challenges of decision making for biodiversity conservation in a context of global change”, supervised by Virgilio Hermoso, on Friday, September 15 in the auditorium of the CTFC.

Biodiversity has been declining at an alarming rate in recent years, as shown in WWF’s latest Living Planet Index Report “Building a positive society for Nature”, published in 2022. This decline is due to human activities, such as changes in land use, intensive agriculture, changes in fire regimes, pollution, and climate change.

In her thesis, Lanzas has integrated various sources of data on conservation actions and current environmental policies with the aim of providing tools to enable objective and informed decision-making on biodiversity conservation.

The work analyzes management efforts for biodiversity conservation in Catalonia by applying mathematical prioritization tools. These tools allow researchers to obtain an overview and optimize actions in order to reduce management costs and maximize the ecological benefits obtained.

A dynamic environment

The thesis demonstrates that the intrinsic dynamism of ecosystems and the pressures they face could compromise both current and future efforts, especially if they continue to focus exclusively on protected areas (static). Thus, Lanzas reveals the need to adapt environmental policies and management to the intrinsically dynamic nature of ecosystems and species, which is further exacerbated by global change.

The work stresses the need to extend biodiversity management beyond protected areas, incorporating policy tools such as Green Infrastructure Networks, and considering the synergies and conflicts that may arise between different land uses.

The results of the thesis underscore the importance of data integration and prioritizing conservation actions. “By implementing integrated strategies, we can aspire to a more sustainable and resilient future by protecting the irreplaceable natural heritage for future generations,” stresses Lanzas.


Last modified: 15 September 2023