V.4 Building and Implementing Systems of Conservation Areas
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V.4 Building and Implementing Systems of Conservation Areas Will R. Turner and Robert L. Pressey OUTLINE 1. Introduction 2. Systematic conservation planning 3. Data for conservation planning 4. Methods for the selection of conservation areas 5. Representation or persistence? Dynamics and uncertainty 6. Global conservation planning 7. The future of conservation planning: Research challenges The future of biodiversity depends critically on effective systems of conservation areas. The science underpinning the design and implementation of these systems has benefited from advances in ecology, data acquisition, and computational methods. Future success requires innovation on issues such as scale, the dynamic nature of threats and opportunities, and socioeconomic factors. GLOSSARY algorithm. Sequence of defined steps to achieve a result , defined by humans but often solved by computers , especially for complex conservation planning problems conservation area. Place where action is taken to promote the persistence of biodiversity irreplaceability. Property of a site measuring the likelihood that its protection will be required for a system of conservation areas to meet all targets or to otherwise optimize a conservation objective function objective function. Mathematical statement of quantities to be maximized (e.g., the number of species or other biodiversity elements meeting targets) or minimized (e.g., cost) persistence. Sustained existence of species or other elements of biodiversity both within and outside of conservation areas; as a conservation target, generally preferable to representation representation. Sampling of biodiversity pattern, such as a number of species occurrences, within the boundaries of conservation areas; contrast with persistence systematic conservation planning. The process of identifying and implementing systems of complementary conservation areas that together achieve explicit, quantifiable targets for the conservation of biological diversity target. Explicit, quantifiable outcome desired for each species or other biodiversity element of interest 1. INTRODUCTION The fraction of Earth’s surface protected in conservation areas increased dramatically in the twentieth century with more than 10% of terrestrial area now under some form of protection (Chape et al., 2005). This effort could not come at a more important time: biodiversity worldwide is in jeopardy, with current species extinction rates estimated to be at least 100– 1000 times higher than in prehuman times. Yet the extent of protected areas alone gives an incomplete picture. Too often these areas have been chosen on the basis of high scenic value or political expediency rather than the persistence of biological diversity. This tendency is evident in the widespread occurrence of areas ostensibly for biodiversity conservation in locations that are poorly drained, arid, remote, steep, or otherwise undesirable for homes, farms, resource extraction, and other human uses. This approach might sound like a ‘‘win–win’’ solution for people and other species. Yet it leaves the species most likely to become extinct— those most subject to human pressures—inadequately protected. The decline of biodiversity and the irreversible loss of conservation opportunities therefore continue even as reserve systems expand. In a seminal 2004 analysis, Ana Rodrigues and co-workers analyzed the global set of protected areas (figure 1) and found that at least 1400 terrestrial vertebrate species were not included in any protected areas, with many others underprotected. These shortfalls are likely even greater in marine and freshwater biomes, which face severe threats but have received less conservation attention in comparison. In all biomes, failure to incorporate data on biodiversity and current threats in the selection of conservation areas has limited their effectiveness. Multiple theoretical and practical challenges must be overcome to avoid the continuing loss of biological diversity and to improve on the shortcomings of past conservation approaches. Biodiversity, threats to it, and costs of conservation are unevenly distributed at all spatial scales, from local parcels and watersheds to nations and worldwide biomes. Moreover, conservation resources are limited, so it is essential that the best decisions be made with what resources we have. Systems of conservation areas must be built and implemented in a systematic way to ensure the efficiency and success of efforts to secure biodiversity. 2. SYSTEMATIC CONSERVATION PLANNING Conservation areas—places where action is undertaken to promote the persistence of biodiversity—are the cornerstone of conservation strategies. Successful strategies must account for the relationships among areas to create systems—not simple collections—of conservation areas. Conservation areas interact with one another across space through ecological processes such as animal movements, hydrological flows, and seed dispersal. Moreover, the usefulness of any one conservation area depends not on its ability to meet conservation targets on its own but on the extent to which it complements...