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  What is the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan?

Created as the proceedings of the 2005 IUCN/SSC Amphibian Conservation Summit, the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan (ACAP) is the science community’s urgent call for globally coordinated conservation action to address the alarming increase in amphibian extinctions.

Beginning in the late 1980s herpetologists reported amphibians had gone missing within protected parks and reserves. Since then research has shown that modern amphibian declines and extinctions have no precedent over the last few millennia. The first Global Amphibian Assessment in 2004 documented the breadth of amphibian losses worldwide: about 32% of some 6,000 amphibian species were shown to be threatened at that time and population size was declining in at least 43% of species. A summit was convened in September 2005 to devise a unified strategy for amphibian conservation in the form of the Amphibian Conservation Action Plan. The ACAP originally outlined a five-year plan to curtail the decline and extinction of amphibians, and focuses on eleven themes, including designing a network of conservation sites for amphibians and captive breeding programs.

The ACAP aims to counter amphibian decline through four recommended actions by researchers and conservation biologists: (1) Expand scientific understanding of amphibian declines and extinctions; (2) continue to document amphibian diversity and ecology and how they are changing; (3) develop and implement long-term conservation programs; (4) prepare emergency response actions for eminent crises.

The ACAP offers practical, large-scale, innovative and realistic actions to combat the extinction of amphibian species. The global strategy focuses on survival assurance colonies, disease research, and habitat protection. At the same time, other threats including climate change, over-harvesting, and toxins are not forgotten. For instance, climate change contributed to the extinction of the Costa Rican Golden Toad (Incilius periglenes) and over-harvesting is severely threatening several of China’s remarkable frogs and salamanders.

The ACAP is designed to provide guidance for implementing amphibian conservation and research initiatives at all scales from global to local. The ACAP can provide a blueprint for local NGOs seeking to incorporate amphibians into management plans of protected areas or devise a regional or national strategy for amphibian conservation, for governments seeking to fulfil their Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 2010 targets, or for researchers working to fill crucial gaps in knowledge.

To provide an example of its implementation, the ACAP has been adopted as a framework for developing National Amphibian Action Plans in Madagascar and Costa Rica. Locally-held workshops addressed the themes relevant to each region to come up with a national strategy to combat amphibian declines. Certain themes within the ACAP were more relevant to one country than the other and the respective national action plans were tailored to reflect this.
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