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How to Build an Efficient Conservation Fence

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Barriers are used to achieve diverse objectives in conservation and biosecurity. In conservation management, fences are often erected to exclude introduced predators and to contain diseased animals or invasive species. Planning an efficient conservation fence involves a number of decisions, including the size and design of the enclosure. We formulated the first general framework for building a fence that minimizes long-term management costs by balancing the expense of constructing a more secure barrier against the costs of coping with more frequent failures. The approach systematically considers the range of potential solutions to a well-defined fencing problem and results in a solution that maximizes conservation return on investment. We illustrated this method by designing efficient fences to address two different conservation goals: exclusion of invasive predators from populations of threatened eastern barred bandicoots (Perameles gunnii) and maintenance of isolated populations of healthy Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii). A systematic approach to conservation fencing allows the best fence design to be chosen quantitatively and defensibly. It also facilitates conservation decisions at a strategic level by allowing fencing to be compared transparently with alternative conservation management actions.
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Keywords: Perameles gunnii; Tasmanian devil facial tumor disease; barrera de bioseguridad; biosecurity barrier; eastern barred bandicoot; enfermedad de tumor facial del demonio de Tasmania; exclusión de depredadores; predator exclusion; retorno de la inversión; return on investment

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Applied Environmental Decision Analysis Group, School of Botany, University of Melbourne, Parkville, Melbourne, Victoria 3010, Australia

Publication date: February 1, 2010

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