New book by C·I·B researcher on the role of fences in conservation

Book cover: Fencing for Conservation

A new book featuring aspects of the role of fences in conservation around the globe, was recently launched by C·I·B researcher, Michael Somers and co-editor Matt Hayward.

How can we best protect the world’s biodiversity in the face of the growing human population? This question is the central theme of contemporary conservation biology. Conservation planning has received a great deal of research as a way of conserving biodiversity, yet, while theoretically successful, it has never been tested. Simple lines on maps to illustrate conservation areas are unlikely to be successful in the light of human encroachment. It may be that some form of obvious barrier that goes beyond restricting human access is necessary to ensure the protection of reserves. Fences have become common features of our environment and firmly entrenched in our lives, as we use them to surround our farms, houses, and anything we want to keep to ourselves or protect.

Within the last few hundred years, conservationists have started using fences to protect biodiversity from overuse and poaching, as well as to protect people from wild animals, especially large carnivores and megaherbivores such as elephants and rhinos. The methodologies for, and approaches to, the use of fences by conservationists vary, and range from the intensive fencing practices in places such as South Africa, to the complete avoidance of fences in other places such as parts of East Africa. In other areas such as Australia and New Zealand fences are used at enormous costs, not to protect biodiversity from people, but to protect vulnerable native species from invasive alien species such as foxes and cats. Some may argue that biodiversity conservation is not possible without fences, while others argue that the fencing in of biodiversity simply creates zoos and restricts evolutionary potential.

The new book by Somers and Hayward titled “Fencing for Conservation: Restriction of Evolutionary Potential or a Riposte to Threatening Processes?”, reviews some of the debates regarding fencing for conservation and summarises the current state of knowledge and practice, describing numerous case studies from around the world. As such, it will be of interest to students and researchers of conservation biology, invasion biology, ecology and wildlife management.

Michael Somers is a lecturer in the Centre for Wildlife Management, an associate of the Mammal Research Institute, both at the University of Pretoria and is a core team member of the DST-NRF Centre of Excellence for Invasion Biology, University of Stellenbosch.

Matt Hayward works for the Australian Wildlife Conservancy as a regional ecologist. He is also associated with the Centre for African Conservation Ecology, Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, the Mammal Research Institute, Polish Academy of Science, Białowieża, Poland, and the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science at the University of New South Wales.

For more information about the book and to order a copy, see the Springer website