Abstract: Incentive‐based strategies such as conservation easements and short‐term management agreements are popular tools for conserving biodiversity on private lands. Billions of dollars are spent by government and private conservation organizations to support land conservation. Although much of conservation biology focuses on reserve design, these methods are often ineffective at optimizing the protection of biological benefits for conservation programs. Our review of the recent literature on protected‐area planning identifies some of the reasons why. We analyzed the site‐selection process according to three important components: biological benefits, land costs, and likelihood of land‐use change. We compared our benefit‐loss‐cost targeting approach with more conventional strategies that omit or inadequately address either land costs or likelihood of land‐use change. Our proposed strategy aims to minimize the expected loss in biological benefit due to future land‐use conversion while considering the full or partial costs of land acquisition. The implicit positive correlation between the likelihood of land‐use conversion and cost of land protection means high‐vulnerability sites with suitable land quality are typically more expensive than low‐vulnerability sites with poor land quality. Therefore, land‐use change and land costs need to be addressed jointly to improve spatial targeting strategies for land conservation. This approach can be extended effectively to land trusts and other institutions implementing conservation programs.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Oct 1, 2005
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