Conserving Species in a Working Landscape: Land

Conserving Species in a Working Landscape: Land Use with Biological
and Economic Objectives
Stephen Polasky, Erik Nelson, Eric Lonsdorf, Paul Fackler, Anthony
Abstract: Habitat loss and fragmentation are a major threat to
biodiversity. Establishing formal protected areas is one means of
conserving habitat, but socio-economic and political constraints
limit the amount of land in such status. Addressing conservation
issues on the vast majority of lands outside of formal protected
areas is also necessary. In this paper we develop a spatially
explicit model for analyzing the consequences of alternative land use
patterns on the persistence of various species and on market-oriented
economic returns. The biological model utilizes habitat preferences,
habitat area requirements and dispersal ability for each species to
predict the probability of persistence of that species given a land
use pattern. The economic model utilizes characteristics of the land
unit and location to predict the value of commodity production given
a land use pattern. We use the combined biological and economic model
to search for efficient land use patterns in which the conservation
outcome cannot be improved without lowering the value of commodity
production. We illustrate our methods with an example that includes
three alternative land uses, agriculture, forestry, and biological
reserve (protected area), for a landscape whose physical, biological,
and economic characteristics are based on conditions in the
Willamette Basin in Oregon.