The realization of conservation goals requires strategies for managing whole landscapes including areas allocated to both production and protection. Reserves alone are not adequate for nature conservation but they are the cornerstone on which regional strategies are built. Reserves have two main roles. They should sample or represent the biodiversity of each region and they should separate this biodiversity from processes that threaten its persistence. Existing reserve systems throughout the world contain a biased sample of biodiversity, usually that of remote places and other areas that are unsuitable for commercial activities. A more systematic approach to locating and designing reserves has been evolving and this approach will need to be implemented if a large proportion of today's biodiversity is to exist in a future of increasing numbers of people and their demands on natural resources.
Your institute does not have access to this article
Open Access articles citing this article.
Environmental Evidence Open Access 09 July 2022
Nature Sustainability Open Access 24 March 2022
High abundance of a single taxon (amphipods) predicts aquatic macrophyte biodiversity in prairie wetlands
Biodiversity and Conservation Open Access 15 February 2022
Subscribe to Journal
Get full journal access for 1 year
only $3.90 per issue
All prices are NET prices.
VAT will be added later in the checkout.
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.
All prices are NET prices.
Kanowski, P. J., Gilmour, D. A., Margules, C. R. & Potter, C. S. International Forest Conservation: Protected Areas and Beyond (Commonwealth of Australia, Canberra, 1999).
Chandrashekara, U. M. & Sankar, S. Ecology and management of sacred groves in Kerala, India. For. Ecol. Mgmt 112, 165–177 (1998).
Grove, R. H. Origins of western environmentalism. Sci. Am. 267, 22–27 (1992).
Hanks, J. Protected areas during and after conflict: the objectives and activities of the Peace Parks Foundation. Parks 7, 11– 24 (1997).
World Conservation Union. Guidelines for Protected Area Management Categories (IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, 1994).
Anon. Global Biodiversity Strategy (World Resources Institute, World Conservation Union, and United Nations Development Program, Washington DC, 1992).
Terborgh, J. Requiem for Nature (Island, Washington DC, 1999).
Austin, M. P. & Margules, C. R. in Wildlife Conservation Evaluation (ed. Usher, M. B.) 45–67 (Chapman & Hall, London, 1986).
Soulé, M. E. (ed.) Viable Populations for Conservation (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1987).
Shafer, C. L. National park and reserve planning to protect biological diversity: some basic elements. Landscape Urban Plan. 44, 123– 153 (1999).
Peres, C. A. & Terborgh, J. W. Amazonian nature reserves: an analysis of the defensibility status of existing conservation units and design criteria for the future. Conserv. Biol. 9, 34–46 (1995).
Holling, C. S. (ed.) Adaptive Environmental Assessment and Management (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, and Wiley, Toronto, 1978).
Pressey, R. L. in Ecology for Everyone: Communicating Ecology to Scientists, the Public and the Politicians (eds Wills, R. & Hobbs, R.) 73– 87 (Surrey Beatty, Sydney, 1998)
Cowling, R. M., Pressey, R. L., Lombard, A. T., Desmet, P. G. & Ellis, A. G. From representation to persistence: requirements for a sustainable reserve system in the species-rich Mediterranean-climate deserts of southern Africa. Div. Distrib. 5, 51–71 (1999).
Davis, F. W., Stoms, D. M. & Andelman, S. Systematic reserve selection in the USA: an example from the Columbia Plateau ecoregion. Parks 9, 31–41 (1999).
Nix, H. A. et al. The BioRap Toolbox: A National Study of Biodiversity Assessment and Planning for Papua New Guinea. Consultancy Report to World Bank (CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, 2000).
Noss, R. F., Strittholt, J. R., Vance-Borland, K., Carroll, C. & Frost, P. A conservation plan for the Klamath-Siskiyou ecoregion. Nat. Areas J. 19, 392– 411 (1999).
Dobson, A. P., Rodriguez, J. P., Roberts, W. M. & Wilcove, D. S. Geographic distribution of endangered species in the United States. Science 275, 550–553 ( 1997).
Aiken, S. R. Peninsular Malaysia's protected areas' coverage, 1903–92: creation, rescission, excision, and intrusion. Environ. Conserv. 21, 49–56 (1994).
Pressey, R. L. et al. How well protected are the forests of north-eastern New South Wales?—Analyses of forest environments in relation to tenure, formal protection measures and vulnerability to clearing. For. Ecol. Mgmt 85, 311–333 ( 1996).
Ranta, P., Blom, T., Niemela, J., Joensuu, E. & Siitonen, M. The fragmented Atlantic rain forest of Brazil: size, shape and distribution of forest fragments. Biodiv. Conserv. 7, 385–403 (1998).
Sarkar, S. Wilderness preservation and biodiversity conservation—keeping divergent goals distinct. BioScience 49, 405– 412 (1999).
Anon. National Forest Policy Statement: a New Focus for Australia's Forests (Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1992).
Noss, R. F., O'Connell, M. A. & Murphy, D. D. The Science of Conservation Planning: Habitat Conservation under the Endangered Species Act (Island, Washington, 1997).
Pressey, R. L. & Logan, V. S. in Conservation Outside Nature Reserves (eds Hale, P. & Lamb, D.) 407– 418 (Univ. Queensland Press, Brisbane, 1997).
Hansen, A. J., Garman, S. L., Marks, B. & Urban, D. L. An approach for managing vertebrate diversity across multiple-use landscapes. Ecol. Applic. 3, 481–496 (1993).
Prendergast, J. R. et al. Rare species, the coincidence of diversity hotspots and conservation strategies. Nature 365, 335– 337 (1993).
van Jaarsveld, A. S. et al. Biodiversity assessment and conservation strategies. Science 279, 2106 (1998).
Howard, P. C. et al. Complementarity and the use of indicator groups for reserve selection in Uganda. Nature 394, 472– 475 (1998).
McKenzie, N. L., Belbin, L., Margules, C. R. & Keighery, J. G. Selecting representative reserve systems in remote areas: a case study in the Nullarbor region, Australia. Biol. Conserv. 50, 239 (1989).
Goldstein, P. Z. Functional ecosystems and biodiversity buzzwords. Conserv. Biol. 13, 247–255 ( 1999).
Nix, H. A. in Evolution of the Flora and Fauna of Australia (eds Baker, W. R. & Greenslade, P. J. M.) 47–66 (Peacock, Adelaide, 1982).
Nix, H. A. in Atlas of Elapid Snakes of Australia (ed. Longmore, R.) 4– 14 (Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1986).
Austin, M. P. Continuum concept, ordination methods and niche theory. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 16, 39–61 ( 1985).
Austin, M. P., Nicholls, A. O. & Margules, C. R. Measurement of the qualitative realised niche: environmental niches of five Eucalyptus species. Ecol. Monogr. 60, 161–177 (1990).
Wessels, K. J., Freitag, S. & van Jaarsveld, A. S. The use of land facets as biodiversity surrogates during reserve selection at a local scale. Biol. Conserv. 89, 21–38 (1999).
Richards, B. N. et al. Biological Conservation of the South-East Forests (Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1990).
Ferrier, S. & Watson, G. An Evaluation of the Effectiveness of Environmental Surrogates and Modelling Techniques in Predicting the Distribution of Biological Diversity (Environment Australia, Canberra, 1997).
Margules, C. R. & Austin, M. P. Biological models for monitoring species decline: the construction and use of data bases. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 344, 69– 75 (1994).
Nelson, B. W., Ferreira, C. A. C., da Silva, M. F. & Kawasaki, M. L. Endemism centres, refugia and botanical collection intensity in Brazilian Amazonia. Nature 345, 714– 716 (1990).
Hutchinson, M. F. et al. BioRap Volume 2. Spatial Modelling Tools (http://cres.anu.edu/biorap/tools.html ) (The Australian BioRap Consortium, Canberra, 1996 ).
Austin, M. P. & Meyers, J. A. Current approaches to modelling the environmental niche of Eucalypts: implications for management of forest biodiversity. For. Ecol. Mgmt 85, 95– 106 (1996).
Deadman, P. J. & Gimblett, H. R. Applying neural networks to vegetation management plan development. AI Applic. 11, 107 (1997).
Jennings, M. D. Gap analysis: concepts, methods, and recent results. Landscape Ecol. 15, 5–20 ( 2000).
Pressey, R. L. & Logan, V. S. Size of selection units for future reserves and its influence on actual vs. targeted representation of features: a case study in western New South Wales. Biol. Conserv. 85, 305–319 ( 1998).
Soulé, M. E. & Sanjayan, M. A. Conservation targets: do they help? Science 279, 2060 (1998).
Commonwealth of Australia. Nationally Agreed Criteria for the Establishment of a Comprehensive, Adequate and Representative Reserve System for Forests in Australia (Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1997).
Margules, C. R. & Nicholls, A. O. in Nature Conservation: The Role of Remnants of Native Vegetation (eds Saunders, D. A., Arnold, G. W., Burbidge, A. A. & Hopkins, A. J. M.) 89– 102 (Surrey Beatty, Sydney, 1987).
Balmford, A., Mace, G. M. & Ginsberg, J. A. in Conservation in a Changing World (eds Mace, G. M., Balmford, A. & Ginsberg, J. A.) 1–28 (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1998).
MacArthur, R. H. & Wilson, E. O. The Theory of Island Biogeography (Princeton, New Jersey, 1967).
Diamond, J. M. The island dilemma: lessons of modern biogeographic studies for the design of natural reserves. Biol. Conserv. 7, 129 (1975).
Wilson, E. O. & Willis, E. O. in Ecology and Evolution of Communities (eds Cody, M. L. & Diamond, J. M.) 522–534 (Belknap, Cambridge, MA, 1975).
Higgs, A. J. Island biogeography and nature reserve design. J. Biogeogr. 8, 117–124 (1981).
Sauer J. D. Oceanic islands and biogeographical theory. Geogr. Rev. 59, 585 (1969).
Davies, K. F., Margules, C. R. & Lawrence, J. F. Which traits of species predict population declines in experimental forest fragments? Ecology 81 (in the press).
Levins, R. Some demographic and genetic consequences of environmental heterogeneity for biological control. Bull. Entomol. Soc. Am. 15, 237–240 (1969).
Holt, R. D. & Gaines, M. S. in Patch Dynamics (eds Levin, S. A., Powell, T. M. & Steele, J. H.) 260–276 (Springer, Berlin, 1993).
Gilpin, M. E. in Viable Populations for Conservation (ed. Soulé, M. E.) 126–139 (Cambridge Univ. Press, New York, 1987).
Bennett, A. F. Linkages in the Landscape: the Role of Corridors and Connectivity in Wildlife Conservation (IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, and Cambridge, 1998).
Thomas, C. D. et al. in Conservation in a Changing World (eds Mace, G. M., Balmford, A. & Ginsberg, J. R.) 107–138 (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1998).
Holt, R. D. in Species Diversity in Ecological Communities (eds Ricklefs, R. E. & Schluter, D.) 77–96 (Univ. Chicago Press, Chicago, 1993).
Lindenmayer, D. B. & Possingham, H. P. The Risk of Extinction: Ranking Management Options for Leadbeater's Possum (Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, 1995).
Pickett, S. T. A., & Thompson, J. N. Patch dynamics and the design of nature reserves. Biol. Conserv. 13 , 27–37 (1978).
Lamberson, R. H., Noon, B. R., Voss, C. & McKelvey, R. Reserve design for territorial species: the effects of patch size and spacing on the viability of the Northern Spotted Owl. Conserv. Biol. 8, 185–195 (1994).
Burgman, M., Ferson, S. & Akçakaya, H. R. Risk Assessment in Conservation Biology (Chapman & Hall, New York, 1993)
Lindenmayer, D. B., Burgman, M. A., Akçakaya, H. R., Lacy, R. C. & Possingham, H. P. A review of three models for metapopulation viability analysis—ALEX, RAMAS/Space and VORTEX. Ecol. Model. 82, 161–174 (1995).
Lambeck, R. J. Focal species: a multi-species umbrella for nature conservation. Conserv. Biol. 11, 849–856 (1997).
Dias, P. C. Sources and sinks in population biology. Trends Ecol. Evol. 11, 326–330 (1999).
Braithwaite, L. W., Binns, D. L. & Nowlan, R. D. The distribution of arboreal marsupials in relation to eucalypt forest types in the Eden (NSW) Woodchip Concession Area. Aust. Wildl. Res. 10, 231–247 (1988).
Saunders, D. A., Hobbs, R. J. & Margules, C. R. Biological consequences of ecosystem fragmentation: a review. Conserv. Biol. 5, 18 (1991).
Kapos, V. Effects of isolation on the water status of forest patches in the Brazilian Amazon. J. Trop. Ecol. 5, 173 (1989).
Didham, R. K., Hammond, P. M., Lawton, J. H., Eggleton, P. & Stork, N. E. Beetle species responses to tropical forest fragmentation. Ecol. Monogr. 68, 295–323 (1998).
Margules, C. R., Milkovits, G. A. & Smith, G. T. Contrasting effects of habitat fragmentation on the scorpion, Cercophonius squama and an amphipod. Ecology 75, 2033–2042 (1994).
Cochrane, M. A et al. Positive feedbacks in the fire dynamic of closed canopy tropical forests. Science 284, 1832– 1835 (1999).
Yates C. J. & Hobbs, R. J. Temperate eucalypt woodlands: a review of their status, processes threatening their persistence and techniques for restoration. Aust. J. Bot. 45, 949– 973 (1997).
Frankel, O. H. & Soulé, M. E. Conservation and Evolution (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1981 ).
Rojas, M. The species problem and conservation: what are we protecting? Conserv. Biol. 6, 170–178 (1992).
Vane-Wright, R. I., Humphries, C. J. & Williams, P. H. What to protect?—Systematics and the agony of choice. Biol. Conserv. 55, 235– 254 (1991).
Fjeldsa, J. Geographic patterns for relict and young species of birds in Africa and South America and implications for conservation priorities. Biodiv. Conserv. 3, 207–226 ( 1994).
Kiester, A. R. et al. Conservation prioritization using GAP data. Conserv. Biol. 10, 1332–1342 ( 1996).
Kirkpatrick, J. B. An iterative method for establishing priorities for the selection of nature reserves: an example from Tasmania. Biol. Conserv. 25, 127–134 (1983).
Stoms, D. M. GAP management status and regional indicators of threats to biodiversity. Landscape Ecol. 15, 21–33 (2000).
Noss, R. F. Assessing and monitoring forest biodiversity: a suggested framework and indicators . For. Ecol. Mgmt 115, 135– 146 (1999).
Williams, P. H. in Conservation in a Changing World (eds Mace, G. M., Balmford, A. & Ginsberg, J. R.) 211–249 (Cambridge Univ. Press, Cambridge, 1998).
Faith, D. P. Phylogenetic pattern and the quantification of organismal biodiversity. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 345, 45– 48 (1994).
Colwell, R. K. & Coddington, J. A. Estimating terrestrial biodiversity through extrapolation. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B 345, 101–108 (1994).
Faith, D. P. & Walker, P. A. Environmental diversity: on the best-possible use of surrogate data for assessing the relative biodiversity of sets of areas. Biodiv. Conserv. 5, 399 –415 (1996).
Belbin, L. Environmental representativeness: regional partitioning and reserve selection . Biol. Conserv. 66, 223– 230 (1993).
Faith, D. P. & Norris, R. Correlation of environmental variables with patterns of distribution and abundance of common and rare freshwater macroinvertebrates. Biol. Conserv. 50, 77 –89 (1989).
Williams, P. H. et al. Comparison of richness hotspots, rarity hotspots and complementary areas for conserving biodiversity, using British birds. Conserv. Biol. 10, 155–174 ( 1996).
Ferrier, S., Pressey, R. L. & Barrett, T. W. A new predictor of the irreplaceability of areas for achieving a conservation goal, its application to real-world planning, and a research agenda for further refinement. Biol. Conserv. (in the press).
Faith, D. P., Margules, C. R., Walker, P. A., Hutchinson, M. & Nix, H. A. in Science for Pacific Posterity: Environments, Resources and Welfare of the Pacific People (ed. Anon) 153 (Univ. of New South Wales Press, Sydney, 1999).
Faith, D. P., Walker, P. A., Ive, J. R. & Belbin, L. in Conserving Biological Diversity in Temperate Forest Ecosystems—Towards Sustainable Management (ed. Anon) 74–75 (Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies, Australian National University, Canberra, 1994).
Faith, D. P. & Walker, P. A. in BioRap Volume 3. Tools for Assessing Biodiversity Priority Areas (eds Faith, D. P. & Nicholls, A. O.) 63–74 (The Australian BioRap Consortium, Canberra, 1996).
Faith, D. P. & Walker, P. A. Integrating conservation and development: effective trade-offs between biodiversity and cost in the selection of protected areas. Biodiv. Conserv. 5, 417– 429 (1996).
Pressey, R. L. in National Parks and Protected Areas: Selection, Delimitation and Management (eds Pigram, J. J. & Sundell, R. C.) 337– 357 (Univ. of New England, Centre for Water Policy Research, Armidale, 1997).
Myers, N. Threatened biotas: hotspots in tropical forests. The Environmentalist 8, 178–208 ( 1988).
Mittermeier, R. A., Myers, N., Thomsen, J. B., da Fonseca, G. A. B. & Olivieri, S. Biodiversity hotspots and major tropical wilderness areas: approaches to setting conservation priorities. Conserv. Biol. 12, 516– 520 (1998).
Myers, N., Mittermeier, R. A., Mittermeier, C. G., da Fonseca, G. A. B. & Kent, J. Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403, 853–858 (2000).
Dinerstein, E. & Wikramanayake, E. D. Beyond “hotspots”: how to prioritize investments to conserve biodiversity in the Indo-Pacific region. Conserv. Biol. 7, 53–65 (1993).
Balmford, A. & Long, A. Avian endemism and forest loss. Nature 372, 623–624 ( 1994).
Sisk, T. D., Launer, A. E., Switky, K. R. & Erlich, P. R. Identifying extinction threats: global analyses of the distribution of biodiversity and the expansion of the human enterprise. BioScience 44, 592–604 (1994).
Ricketts, T. H. et al. Terrestrial Ecoregions of North America: A Conservation Assessment (Island, Washington DC, 1999)
Myers, N. The Sinking Ark: A New Look at the Problem of Disappearing Species (Pergamon, Oxford, 1979).
James, A. N. Institutional constraints to protected area funding. Parks 9, 15–26 (1999).
Stolton, S. & Dudley, N. A preliminary survey of management status and threats in forest protected areas. Parks 9, 27–33 (1999).
Caughley, G. & Sinclair, A. R. E. Wildlife Management and Ecology (Blackwell Science, Cambridge, MA, 1994).
Hockings, M. & Phillips, A. How well are we doing?—Some thoughts on the effectiveness of protected areas. Parks 9, 5–14 (1999).
Faith, D. P. & Walker, P. A. in National Parks and Protected Areas: Selection, Delimitation and Management (eds Pigram, J. J. & Sundell, R. C.) 297–314 (Univ. New England Press, Armidale, 1997).
D. Faith, M. Hutchinson and H. Nix permitted the use of the unpublished map in Fig. 2. Many people have contributed to the ideas expressed here including M. Austin, C. Humphries, S. Ferrier, N. Nicholls, S. Sarkar, R. Vane-Wright, P. Walker and P. Williams. Critical comments from A. Balmford, G. Harrington, R. Noss and D. Westcott improved a draft of the manuscript. Some of the ideas discussed here were developed while both authors held fellowships at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. T. Barrett and M. Watts prepared Figs 5 and 6.
About this article
Cite this article
Margules, C., Pressey, R. Systematic conservation planning. Nature 405, 243–253 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/35012251
Environmental Evidence (2022)
Nature Sustainability (2022)
Scientific Reports (2022)
Spatial pattern of freshwater habitats and their prioritization using additive partitions of beta diversity of inhabitant piscine assemblages in the Terai–Dooars ecoregion of Eastern Himalayas
High abundance of a single taxon (amphipods) predicts aquatic macrophyte biodiversity in prairie wetlands
Biodiversity and Conservation (2022)