Article

Prioritizing global conservation efforts. Nature

The Ecology Centre, Schools of Integrative Biology and Physical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.
Nature (Impact Factor: 41.46). 04/2006; 440(7082):337-40. DOI: 10.1038/nature04366
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT

One of the most pressing issues facing the global conservation community is how to distribute limited resources between regions identified as priorities for biodiversity conservation. Approaches such as biodiversity hotspots, endemic bird areas and ecoregions are used by international organizations to prioritize conservation efforts globally. Although identifying priority regions is an important first step in solving this problem, it does not indicate how limited resources should be allocated between regions. Here we formulate how to allocate optimally conservation resources between regions identified as priorities for conservation--the 'conservation resource allocation problem'. Stochastic dynamic programming is used to find the optimal schedule of resource allocation for small problems but is intractable for large problems owing to the "curse of dimensionality". We identify two easy-to-use and easy-to-interpret heuristics that closely approximate the optimal solution. We also show the importance of both correctly formulating the problem and using information on how investment returns change through time. Our conservation resource allocation approach can be applied at any spatial scale. We demonstrate the approach with an example of optimal resource allocation among five priority regions in Wallacea and Sundaland, the transition zone between Asia and Australasia.

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    • "When accounting for previously protected areas, related corner solutions are usually optimal. We expected high correspondence between these ROI values and actual expenditures at the state level if TNC funding was flexible across borders and the organization was prioritizing areas where the most species could be protected at the lowest cost (i.e., a maximize-gain approach to ROI in contrast to a minimize-loss alternative [Wilson et al. 2006 ] ). Our approach is intended to represent relative differences in biodiversity need for , and potential gains from , conservation investment between states, not ab - solute gains in biodiversity protected , which is often in - ferred from species area curves ( e . "
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    • "As resources for biodiversity conservation remain constrained and the location of and threats to biodiversity are distributed unevenly, prioritization is one of the most common and essential strategies for cost-effective conservation management (Brooks et al. 2006; Wu et al. 2014). Priority areas are usually identified using information on relative biodiversity values (species richness or endemic species), past or present threats to these values, ecosystem services at different scales and current levels of protection (Margules and Pressey 2000; Reddy et al. 2015; Rubio et al. 2015; Wilson et al. 2006; Wu et al. 2014). However, the scarcity of comprehensive species distribution data with acceptable quality for most parts of the world constrains regional conservation planning at the fine, or local scale (Brooks et al. 1999; Fajardo et al. 2014; Huang et al. 2012). "
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