The EDGE of Existence programme is a research and conservation initiative that focuses on species deemed to be the world’s most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE). Developed by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL), the programme aims to raise awareness of the world’s EDGE species, implement targeted research and conservation actions to halt their decline, and to train in-country conservationists (called EDGE Fellows) to protect them now and in the future.
The EDGE programme seeks to:
- Identify the current status of poorly known, endangered, vulnerable and possibly extinct EDGE species.
- Develop and implement conservation measures for all EDGE species not currently protected.
- Support local scientists to research and conserve EDGE species worldwide.
Conserving EDGE species
The EDGE of Existence programme is centred on an interactive website that features information on the top 100 EDGE mammals, reptiles, birds, amphibians and top 25 EDGE corals, detailing their specific conservation requirements. Each of the top 100 species is given an EDGE-ometer rating according to the degree of conservation attention they are currently receiving, as well as its perceived rarity in its natural environment. Recent research suggests that 70% of the world’s top 100 EDGE mammals are currently receiving little or no conservation attention.
EDGE research and conservation is carried out by ZSL researchers, a large network of partner organizations and in-country scientists. An integral part of the EDGE programme is the EDGE Fellowship scheme, which provides funding and support to in-country scientists for field research on the conservation status and threats facing a particular EDGE species. EDGE Fellows participate in all phases of a research project, from study design to data collection, analysis and interpretation and receive guidance and training in monitoring techniques, community outreach and education. Each project is focused on delivering a conservation action plan.
Once the action plan is completed, a meeting with local stakeholders is held to make additions and corrections to the document and to agree on a timeline and institutional responsibilities.