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Conservation Planning Specialist Group

Project History & Aims

The Conservation Planning Specialist Group (CPSG) has a mission to save threatened species by increasing the effectiveness of conservation efforts worldwide. For over 30 years, they’ve accomplished this by using scientifically sound, collaborative processes that bring together people with diverse perspectives and knowledge to catalyse positive conservation change. CPSG provide species conservation planning expertise to governments, Specialist Groups, zoos and aquariums, and other wildlife organizations.

CPSG is part of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and is supported by a non-profit organization incorporated under the name Global Conservation Network.  The ties to the IUCN are essential to the strength of CPSG and their position as a vital link among governments, conservation organizations, and others in the conservation community.

CPSG transforms passion for wildlife into effective conservation.


Recent News

The CPSG have many projects and plans ongoing and below are just a couple of the most current activities:

Working to Save the World’s Most Endangered Cracid

CPSG Mexico designed and facilitated a workshop to develop a National Conservation Action Plan for the blue-billed curassow in Colombia.

The Situation
The blue-billed curassow (Crax alberti) is a Critically Endangered endemic species from Colombia. Blue-billed curassows inhabit several protected areas in the country, yet many of these areas do not provide sufficient protections; thus the species is still threatened by overhunting and habitat loss. The current wild population size is estimated to be 250-999. The species does not yet have a National Conservation Action Plan approved by the Colombian government, although scattered conservation efforts have been implemented.

The Process
With input from the Colombian Association of Zoos and Aquariums (ACOPAZOA), the government of Colombia selected CPSG’s Population and Habitat Viability Assessment (PHVA) as the best process to create the basis for developing a National Conservation Action Plan for the blue-billed curassow. CPSG Mexico designed and facilitated the workshop, guiding participants through the development of a draft conservation action plan and modeling different scenarios to assess the viability of the species and its various populations. Using CPSG tools and processes, participants surfaced misconceptions and assumptions about the status and population size of blue-billed curassows.

The Results
Participants identified crucial next steps, particularly the need to better understand the natural history of blue-billed curassows and the effects of habitat loss on the species. Additionally, researchers at the workshop discussed a list of possible grants and have since created proposals to seek funding for ongoing conservation efforts. As a result of the workshop, a draft Action Plan for blue-billed curassows in Colombia will be presented soon to the Colombian government for its approval.


Headstarting Blue-Sided Tree Frogs in Costa Rica

Using the IUCN SSC ex situ guidelines, CPSG Mesoamerica led a workshop to help Simón Bolívar Zoological Park manage a subpopulation of blue-sided tree frogs.


  • Blue-sided tree frogs have a striking appearance: green upper parts; blue, pink, orange, and lavender limbs and flanks; and yellow orange eyes. As a result of this beautiful coloration, the species is popular in the international pet trade.
  • Small, fragmented populations of the species persist only in disturbed sites surrounding San Jose, Costa Rica.
  • Blue-sided tree frogs lay their eggs on the underside of leaves that hang over bodies of water. When the tadpoles are developed, they fall or wash into the water during a heavy rain. As temperatures increase and the dry season lengthens due to climate change, alterations in rainfall and dropping humidity levels could disrupt the process.

The Situation
The blue-sided tree frog (Agalychnis annae) is an adaptable species once common in forested areas and disturbed habitats such as coffee plantations and gardens in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. Urban expansion decreased these habitats in the 1980s, and now these amphibians are restricted to fragmented sites within San Jose that have enough vegetation and access to water. One of those sites is a pond located on the property of Simón Bolívar Zoological Park. The zoo began planning a conservation project for the species and organized a workshop to define possible ex situ roles for the subpopulation located on site.

The Process
In 2016, representatives of the zoo met with herpetologists from the University of Costa Rica and other species specialists to discuss the management of the subpopulation of blue-sided tree frogs that lives on the zoo grounds. The main objective was to discuss a protection project that combined in situ and ex situ elements to maintain viability of the fragmented populations found within the city and the country. Led by CPSG Mesoamerica, the participants consulted the IUCN SSC ex situ guidelines and recommended a headstarting program to augment the wild population. They then drafted specific guidelines for management of the subpopulation within the property.

The Results
Eggs gathered on site for the headstart program have already produced tadpoles and metamorphosed into adult frogs. These individuals will either be released back into the habitat in the park, join other existing subpopulations in suitable habitats, or become part of exhibitions dedicated to education about the species. This is the first ex situ population in Costa Rica dedicated to research, environmental education, and supplementation of a natural population. Planning continues for the reintroduction effort, which will also follow IUCN guidelines and likely will genetically connect several sites where the species is currently found, as well as possibly repopulate protected areas where blue-sided tree frogs used to live.

For more information go to www.cpsg.org.

Photos courtesy of CPSG.

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