Landscape Ecology

, Volume 27, Issue 8, pp 1121–1134 | Cite as

Expanding the conservation toolbox: conservation planning of multifunctional landscapes

  • Belinda ReyersEmail author
  • Patrick J. O’Farrell
  • Jeanne L. Nel
  • Kerrie Wilson
Research Article


An area of convergence appears to be emerging between the approaches of conservation planning and the concepts of multifunctional landscapes, which if exploited correctly may assist in overcoming the resource and other constraints faced by biodiversity conservation, while at the same time furthering the aims of multifunctional landscapes to improve production abilities and overall sustainability. Using a multi-zone conservation planning approach, we explore the conservation costs, benefits to biodiversity conservation and possible ecosystem service payments associated with various land-use configurations, in the Little Karoo of South Africa, in order to develop and showcase a multifunctional landscape planning approach and its data requirements, as well as the possible cost savings to conservation agencies. The study uses four conservation planning scenarios, five land-use types, their conservation costs and biodiversity benefits, as well as possible payments from carbon sequestration and tourism. We find that the costs and biodiversity benefits associated with different land-uses varies substantially between land-uses, and also spatially within a land-use type. By incorporating this variation into a multi-zone conservation planning approach land-uses can be allocated in a way that achieves biodiversity targets while at the same time reducing costs by up to 50 % when compared with traditional binary approaches to conservation. Despite some challenges presented by cost and ecosystem service value data and the determination of land-use impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services, the ability of conservation planning approaches to reflect differential contributions of particular land-uses to biodiversity targets and ecosystem services holds much potential for conservation planning, for multifunctional landscape objectives and for growing the resources and partnerships available to the establishment of sustainable and resilient landscapes.


Land-use Conservation costs Payments for ecosystem services Carbon Tourism Grazing 



We thank Willem de Lange for his insights into conservation costs. We also thank Richard Cowling and Jan Vlok for initiating this project. The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, National Research Foundation of South Africa and Australian Research Council are thanked for their financial support.

Supplementary material

10980_2012_9761_MOESM1_ESM.doc (50 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 50 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Belinda Reyers
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Patrick J. O’Farrell
    • 1
  • Jeanne L. Nel
    • 1
  • Kerrie Wilson
    • 3
  1. 1.Natural Resources and the EnvironmentCouncil for Scientific and Industrial ResearchStellenboschSouth Africa
  2. 2.Department of Conservation Ecology and EntomologyUniversity of StellenboschStellenboschSouth Africa
  3. 3.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of QueenslandBrisbane St LuciaAustralia

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