Biodiversity conservation planning tools: Present status and challenges for the future

TitleBiodiversity conservation planning tools: Present status and challenges for the future
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2006
AuthorsSarkar, S, Pressey, RL, Faith, DP, Margules, CR, Fuller, T, Stoms, DM, Moffett, A, Wilson, KA, Williams, KJ, Williams, PH, Andelman, S
JournalAnnual Review of Environment and Resources
Date Published2006
Keywordsbidiversity surrogates, conservation area networks, conservation planning, MCDM, MCE, reserve selection, surrogates

Species extinctions and the deterioration of other biodiversity features worldwide have led to the advocacy of systematic conservation planning for many regions of the world. This process has encouraged the development of various software tools for conservation planning during the last twenty years. These tools implement algorithms designed to identify conservation area networks for the representation and persistence of biodiversity features. Budgetary, ethical, and socio-political constraints dictate that the prioritized sites represent biodiversity economically with minimum impact on human interests. Planning tools are typically used also to satisfy these criteria. This paper reviews both the concepts and technical choices that underlie the development of these tools. The former concepts include complementarity, persistence, irreplaceabilty, and various concepts of economy and efficiency. Planning problems can be formulated as mathematical programs and this paper also evaluates the suitability of different algorithms for their solution. Methods are assessed using the criteria of economy, efficiency, flexibility, transparency, genericity, and modularity. The paper also reviews some key research questions pertaining to the use of these software tools such as computational efficiency, the effectiveness of taxa and abiotic parameters as surrogates for biodiversity, and the problem of setting explicit targets of representation for biodiversity surrogates. Multiple-criteria decision analysis for conservation planning is also discussed. Finally, areas for future research are identified. These include the scheduling of conservation action over extended time periods and the incorporation of data about site vulnerability into place prioritization.