Ecosystem Services Meets Systematic Conservation Planning

by Liz Law

This week saw the inaugural joint meeting of the Ecosystem Services Discussion Group and the Marxan Party to discuss software and tools for planning and prioritization of Ecosystem Services.

The Ecosystem Services framework has developed in recent years, encapsulating land stewardship to foster the many benefits that we derive from our ecosystems. These benefits are many and multifaceted, ranging from agricultural production and climate change mitigation, to regulating watersheds, and stimulating inspiration in diverse cultural settings. However, like biodiversity, planning for ecosystem services requires balancing the management requirements of a diverse range of sometimes opposing land uses, resulting in potentially complex, multi-criteria problems.

Ecosystem services, meet Systematic Conservation Planning.

Systematic Conservation Planning has grown from the need to solve multi-objective allocation problems in a repeatable, transparent way. Typically focused on multiple species or ecosystems, Systematic Conservation Planning has increasingly accounted for real world complexities such as direct and opportunity costs, equity of impact, physical and thematic connectivity between planning units, and contribution of multiple land use types. Continue reading Ecosystem Services Meets Systematic Conservation Planning

Wilson Lab Journal Club: Paying for Environmental Services from Agricultural lands

Andrea Fullagar

I was recently involved in exploring a range of possible actions for reducing biodiversity loss in Australia to include in a submission to the Biodiversity 100 campaign. One of the actions that we discussed (but which was not included in the final set published in the Guardian) was to secure a proportion of native remnant vegetation on all agricultural properties, as well as provide financial rewards to farmers who implemented management actions that were directly linked to conservation.

Agricultural land comprises 473 million hectares or nearly 62 percent of the Australian continent, so there is a clear need to engage with private landholders in order to achieve conservation outcomes across large parts of the country. As the potential to secure more protected areas diminishes, the need to implement sustainable management practices on private land becomes more pressing. Providing economic incentives to landholders in response to a direct management action would place environmental services on the market, while contributing to biodiversity conservation. Financial incentives may come in the form of subsidies or through a market-based system where payments may be administered on a competitive basis.

Continue reading Wilson Lab Journal Club: Paying for Environmental Services from Agricultural lands