Handbook on the Economics of Natural Resources

Handbook on the Economics of Natural Resources

Edited by Robert Halvorsen and David F. Layton

The topics discussed in the Handbook on the Economics of Natural Resources are essential for those looking to understand how best to use and conserve the resources that form the foundation for human well-being. These include nonrenewable resources, modeling of biological resources, conservation of biological resources and water resources. The expert contributors of this Handbook provide solutions to many of the problems that growing populations now face, and sketch the likely future developments in the field of natural resource economics whilst paving the way for new thinking.

Chapter 13: Conservation prioritization using reserve site selection methods

Stephen C. Newbold and Juha Siikamäki

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics


An important problem in conservation biology is determining the optimal design of networks of nature reserves, known as the reserve site selection problem. Reserve site selection and other systematic conservation problems can be framed as constrained optimization problems, where an ecological value function is maximized by targeting conservation activities on a set of protected or managed parcels of land. Contributions to this field come from a variety of specialists, including conservation biologists, operations researchers and economists. Our purpose in this chapter is to provide an introduction to reserve site selection and conservation prioritization problems more generally. We briefly review the history of reserve site selection theory and applications, with emphasis on contributions by environmental economists. We aim to cover the breadth of the reserve site selection literature with a high-level review, and we describe a subset of key contributions in more detail to give the reader a taste of the specific questions of interest to scholars and practitioners in this field. We conclude by discussing several research areas where we believe economists may have a comparative advantage for making further contributions to reserve site selection and related conservation planning problems.

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