Biodiversity conservation planning tools: present status and challenges for the future

Resource Location: 
Remotely hosted behind paywall
Sarkar, Sahotra, Pressey, Robert L., Faith, Daniel P., Margules, Christopher R., Fuller, Trevon, Stoms, David M., Moffett, Alexander, Wilson, Kerrie A., Williams, Paul H., and Andelman, Sandy

Species extinctions and the deterioration of other biodiversity features worldwide have led to the adoption of systematic conservation planning in many regions of the world. As a consequence, various software tools for conservation planning have been developed over the past twenty years. These tools implement algorithms designed to identify conservation area networks for the representation and persistence of biodiversity features. Budgetary, ethical, and other sociopolitical constraints dictate that the prioritized sites represent biodiversity with minimum impact on human interests. Planning tools are typically also used to satisfy these criteria. This chapter reviews both the concepts and technical choices that underlie the development of these tools. Conservation planning problems can be formulated as optimization problems, and we evaluate the suitability of different algorithms for their solution. Finally, we also review some key issues associated with the use of these tools, such as computational efficiency, the effectiveness of taxa and abiotic parameters at choosing surrogates for biodiversity, the process of setting explicit targets of representation for biodiversity surrogates, and dealing with multiple criteria. The review concludes by identifying areas for future research, including the scheduling of conservation action over extensive time periods and incorporating data about site vulnerability.


Sarkar, S., R. L. Pressey, D. P. Faith, C. R. Margules, T. Fuller, D. M. Stoms, A. Moffett, K. A. Wilson, K. J. Williams, P. H. Williams, and S. Andelman. 2006. Biodiversity conservation planning tools: present status and challenges for the future. Annual Review of Environment and Resources 31:123–159.