Use of Inverse Spatial Conservation Prioritization to Avoid Biological Diversity Loss Outside Protected Areas
Globally expanding human land use sets constantly increasing pressure for maintenance of biological diversity and functioning ecosystems. To fight the decline of biological diversity, conservation science has broken ground with methods such as the operational model of systematic conservation planning (SCP), which focuses on design and on‐the‐ground implementation of conservation areas. The most commonly used method in SCP is reserve selection that focuses on the spatial design of reserve networks and their expansion. We expanded these methods by introducing another form of spatial allocation of conservation effort relevant for land‐use zoning at the landscape scale that avoids negative ecological effects of human land use outside protected areas. We call our method inverse spatial conservation prioritization. It can be used to identify areas suitable for economic development while simultaneously limiting total ecological and environmental effects of that development at the landscape level by identifying areas with highest economic but lowest ecological value. Our method is not based on a priori targets, and as such it is applicable to cases where the effects of land use on, for example, individual species or ecosystem types are relatively small and would not lead to violation of regional or national conservation targets. We applied our method to land‐use allocation to peat mining. Our method identified a combination of profitable production areas that provides the needed area for peat production while retaining most of the landscape‐level ecological value of the ecosystem. The results of this inverse spatial conservation prioritization are being used in land‐use zoning in the province of Central Finland.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: December 1, 2013