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Research article2014Peer reviewed

Integrating Biological and Social Values When Prioritizing Places for Biodiversity Conservation

Whitehead, Amy L.; Kujala, Heini; Ives, Christopher D.; Gordon, Ascelin; Lentini, Pia E.; Wintle, Brendan A.; Nicholson, Emily; Raymond, Christopher M.


The consideration of information on social values in conjunction with biological data is critical for achieving both socially acceptable and scientifically defensible conservation planning outcomes. However, the influence of social values on spatial conservation priorities has received limited attention and is poorly understood. We present an approach that incorporates quantitative data on social values for conservation and social preferences for development into spatial conservation planning. We undertook a public participation GIS survey to spatially represent social values and development preferences and used species distribution models for 7 threatened fauna species to represent biological values. These spatially explicit data were simultaneously included in the conservation planning software Zonation to examine how conservation priorities changed with the inclusion of social data. Integrating spatially explicit information about social values and development preferences with biological data produced prioritizations that differed spatially from the solution based on only biological data. However, the integrated solutions protected a similar proportion of the species' distributions, indicating that Zonation effectively combined the biological and social data to produce socially feasible conservation solutions of approximately equivalent biological value. We were able to identify areas of the landscape where synergies and conflicts between different value sets are likely to occur. Identification of these synergies and conflicts will allow decision makers to target communication strategies to specific areas and ensure effective community engagement and positive conservation outcomes.


biodiversity; conservation planning; development preferences; public participation GIS; social values; spatial prioritization; Zonation

Published in

Conservation Biology
2014, Volume: 28, number: 4, pages: 992-1003

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Other Earth and Related Environmental Sciences

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