Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation
Research Letters
Mapping opportunities for environmental education in a defaunated landscape
Meredith Root-Bernsteina,b,c,, , Magdalena Bennettd,e
a Bioscience Department, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
b Institute for Ecology and Biodiversity, Santiago, Chile
c UMR Sciences pour l’Action et le Développement, Activités, Produits, Territoires, INRA, AgroParisTech, Université Paris-Saclay, Thiverval-Grignon, France
d Universidad Bernardo O Higgins, Centro de Investigación en Recursos Naturales y Sustentabilidad, Santiago, Chile
e Departamento de Ecología, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile
Received 05 August 2016, Accepted 18 May 2017
Abstract

Due to historical defaunation and extensive land-use changes, central Chile lacks a megafaunal flagship species with which to attract attention to conservation of the region. We compare the ease of observing potential flagship species according to their distributions in the landscape, and the practical barriers to promoting nature tourism focused on those species, in those locations. First, we consider the distributions of a previously identified flagship fleet for nature engagement in central Chile, consisting of small animals and trees. Second, we map potential areas for the reintroduction or conservation of the guanaco (Lama guanicoe), previously identified as a potential phoenix flagship for central Chile, and the puma (Puma concolor), a native felid appreciated by global audiences. All the areas identified where flagship species are currently found, or could be reintroduced, are fragmented and show almost no overlap with existing protected areas. We conclude that there are fewest practical barriers to encouraging flagship observation in the flagship fleet species areas, compared to the phoenix flagship and the felid flagship options. We discuss opportunities for private protected area creation, nature tourism, and outreach programs promoting observation of the flagship fleet in these areas.

Highlights

  • Personal experience with flagship species may be important to promote conservation.

  • Central Chile lacks a large flagship species, but has smaller charismatic species.

  • We compare flagship reintroduction areas with smaller species' distributions.

  • We conclude there are fewest barriers to promoting observation of small species.

  • Whether many small species is as effective as one large species, is unknown.

Keywords
Flagship species, Environmental education, Chile, Defaunation, Private protected areas