Six common mistakes in conservation priority setting

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Game, Edward T., Kareiva, Peter, and Possingham, Hugh P.

A vast number of prioritization schemes have been developed to help conservation navigate tough decisions about the allocation of finite resources. However, the application of quantitative approaches to setting priorities in conservation frequently includes mistakes that can undermine their authors’ intention to be more rigorous and scientific in the way priorities are established and resources allocated. Drawing on well-established principles of decision science, we highlight 6 mistakes commonly associated with setting priorities for conservation: not acknowledging conservation plans are prioritizations; trying to solve an ill-defined problem; not prioritizing actions; arbitrariness; hidden value judgments; and not acknowledging risk of failure. We explain these mistakes and offer a path to help conservation planners avoid making the same mistakes in future prioritizations.


Game, E. T., P. Kareiva, and H. P. Possingham. 2013. Six common mistakes in conservation priority setting. Conservation Biology.