Balancing alternative land uses in conservation prioritization

Author(s): Moilanen, A., Anderson, A.J., Eigenbrod, F., Heinemeyer, A., Roy, D.B., Gillings, S., Armsworth, P.R., Gaston, K.J. & Thomas, C.D.
Published: 2011
Journal: Ecological Applications
Pages: 1419 - 1426


Pressure on ecosystems to provide various different and often conflicting services is immense and likely to increase. The impacts and success of conservation prioritization will be enhanced if the needs of competing land uses are recognized at the planning stage. We develop such methods and illustrate them with data about competing land uses in Great Britain, with the aim of developing a conservation priority ranking that balances between needs of biodiversity conservation, carbon storage, agricultural value, and urban development potential. While both carbon stocks and biodiversity are desirable features from the point of view of conservation, they compete with the needs of agriculture and urban development. In Britain the greatest conflicts exist between biodiversity and urban areas, while the largest carbon stocks occur mostly in Scotland in areas with low agricultural or urban pressure. In our application, we were able successfully to balance the spatial allocation of alternative land uses so that conflicts between them were much smaller than had they been developed separately. The proposed methods and software, Zonation, are applicable to structurally similar prioritization problems globally.