Ecosystem Services and Connectivity in Spatial Conservation Prioritization

Landsc Ecol. 2017;32(1):5-14. doi: 10.1007/s10980-016-0446-y. Epub 2016 Sep 26.


Context: Spatial conservation prioritization (SCP) concerns, for example, identification of spatial priorities for biodiversity conservation or for impact avoidance in economic development. Software useable for SCP include Marxan, C-Plan and Zonation. SCP is often based on data about the distributions of biodiversity features (e.g., species, habitats), costs, threats, and/or ecosystem services (ES).

Objectives and methods: At simplest ES can be entered into a SCP analysis as independent supply maps, but this is not very satisfactory because connectivity requirements and consequent ideal spatial priority patterns may vary between ES. Therefore, we examine different ES and their connectivity requirements at the conceptual level.

Results: We find that the ideal spatial priority pattern for ES may differ in terms of: local supply area size and regional network requirements for the maintenance of ES provision, for flow between provision and demand, and with respect to the degree of dispersion that is needed for ES provision and access across different administrative regions. We then identify existing technical options in the Zonation software for dealing with such connectivity requirements of ES in SCP.

Conclusions: This work helps users of SCP to improve how ES are accounted for in analysis together with biodiversity and other considerations.

Keywords: Accessibility; Biodiversity; Complementarity; Green infrastructure; Optimization; Spatial interactions; Systematic conservation planning; Trade-offs; Zonation software.