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A Checklist for Wildlands Network Designs

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Systematic conservation planning requires rigorous methods. Methodological rigor and scientific defensibility are enhanced by conceptual frameworks, standards, and criteria for guiding and evaluating individual plans. The Wildlands Project is developing wildlands network designs in various regions across North America, based on the goals of rewilding—restoration of wilderness qualities and intact food webs—and biodiversity conservation. The project employs such modern conservation planning tools as spatially explicit habitat and population models and site-selection algorithms. I created a checklist to assist staff, contractors, and cooperators with the Wildlands Project in the development of regional conservation assessments and wildlands network designs that are consistent with currently accepted standards for science-based conservation planning. The checklist also has proven useful in the peer review of plans. The checklist consists of eight general standards, each of which includes several specific criteria that relate to the qualifications of staff, choice of biodiversity surrogates and goals, methodological comprehensiveness and rigor, replicability, analytic rigor, peer review, and overall quality of scholarship. Application of the checklist is meant to be flexible and to encourage creativity and innovation. Nevertheless, every plan must be scientifically defensible and must make the best use of available data, staff, and resources. Moreover, some degree of consistency is required to link individual plans together into a continental-scale network. The checklist may provide a template that other conservation organizations, agencies, scientists, and activists can adapt to their programs.
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Keywords: Palabras Clave: biodiversidad, planeación de conservación, especies focales, representación, diseño de reservas, selección de sitios, tierras silvestres; biodiversity, conservation planning, focal species, representation, reserve design, site selection, wildlands

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Wildlands Project and Department of Biology, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32816–2368,

Publication date: October 1, 2003

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