Integrating Land Market Feedbacks into Conservation Planning—A Mathematical Programming Approach
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Nature reserves are often designated ad hoc. Despite increasing conservation efforts, loss of biodiversity is still accelerating. Considering land scarcity and demand for alternative uses, efficiency in conservation strongly correlates with efficiency in land allocation. Systematic conservation planning can effectively prioritize conservation activities. Previous studies minimize opportunity costs for given conservation targets. However, these studies assume constant marginal costs of habitat protection. We extend this cost minimization approach by also considering a dynamic representation of marginal costs. The more land is allocated to nature reserves, the higher are opportunity costs, i.e., costs of forgone agricultural production. This increase in costs results from changes in the prices of agricultural commodities. We employ a deterministic, spatially explicit mathematical optimization model to allocate species habitats by minimizing opportunity costs for setting aside land for conservation purposes. The model is designed as a mixed integer programming problem and solved with GAMS/CPLEX. Our results show the need for integrating land market feedbacks into conservation planning. We find that ignoring land rent adjustments can lead to highly cost-ineffective solutions in reserve selection.
KeywordsMarginal costs Mathematical optimization model Mixed integer programming Set-covering problem Systematic conservation planning
The authors thank the many volunteer fieldworkers who contributed to the species atlas records and three anonymous reviewers who gave valuable comments on earlier versions of the manuscript. This study has received financial support from the Michael Otto Foundation for Environmental Protection, and the European Commission through the FP6 projects European Non-Food Agriculture (ENFA) and Global Earth Observation – Benefit Estimation: Now, Next and Emerging (GEOBENE) and the FP7 project A European Approach to GEOSS (EuroGEOSS).
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