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Systematic conservation planning

Abstract

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.

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Figure 1: Social, economic and political factors often compete with reserves for land.
Figure 2: A map of biodiversity priority areas in Papua New Guinea16.
Figure 3: White Rhinos currently persist in relatively small intensively managed populations in game reserves.
Figure 4: Isolated habitat remnants in the wheat belt of Western Australia.
Figure 5: Pattern of complementarity on part of the south coast of New South Wales.
Figure 6: Pattern of irreplaceability in part of the northeast forests of New South Wales.
Figure 7: Spotted gum, Eucalyptus maculata, with an understorey of the cycad, Macrozamia communis in southeastern New South Wales, Australia.
Figure 8: A framework for identifying priority conservation areas in time and space, applicable within regions to environments or other land types20 or to potential conservation areas14,96.

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Acknowledgements

D. Faith, M. Hutchinson and H. Nix permitted the use of the unpublished map in Fig. 2.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.

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Margules, C., Pressey, R. Systematic conservation planning. Nature 405, 243–253 (2000). https://doi.org/10.1038/35012251

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