Chapter 13: Conservation prioritization using reserve site selection methods
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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