Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 9, pp 2715–2728 | Cite as

Comprehensive criteria for biodiversity evaluation in conservation planning

  • Helen M. Regan
  • Frank W. Davis
  • Sandy J. Andelman
  • Astrid Widyanata
  • Mariah Freese
Original Paper


In this paper we present the results of a multi-criteria decision analysis used to identify a comprehensive set of criteria for assigning biodiversity value to sites for conservation planning. For effective conservation management, biodiversity value needs to be a composite of biotic and abiotic factors. However, in the reserve design literature, conservation value is assigned with a limited set of metrics usually based on comprehensiveness, representativeness and persistence which may be insufficient at fully capturing biodiversity value. A group of conservation specialists in California, USA, used a multi-criteria decision making framework to elucidate and weight criteria for scoring biodiversity value at sites. A formal model for consensus and negotiation was applied to aggregate individuals’ criteria weights across all group members. The group identified ecological condition, followed by biotic composition as the most important contributors to site conservation value. Long- and short-term threats causing fragmentation and degradation are also important criteria to consider. Key criteria are identified for which further data collection would serve the greatest purpose in prioritizing sites and the role of prioritization criteria in the larger context of systematic conservation planning is discussed. With the recognition that biodiversity value plays an important role in conservation decisions, the criteria presented here represents a comprehensive suite of factors to consider when assigning biodiversity value to sites for conservation planning. These can serve as an encompassing list which other groups can customize for the purpose of biodiversity evaluation for alternative conservation planning contexts.


Biodiversity value Conservation planning Group decision making Multi-criteria decision making 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen M. Regan
    • 1
    • 4
  • Frank W. Davis
    • 2
  • Sandy J. Andelman
    • 3
    • 4
  • Astrid Widyanata
    • 1
  • Mariah Freese
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of BiologySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA
  2. 2.Donald Bren School of Environmental Science and ManagementUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA
  3. 3.Conservation InternationalWashingtonUSA
  4. 4.National Center for Ecological Analysis and SynthesisUniversity of California Santa BarbaraSanta BarbaraUSA

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