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Optimising ecological and industrial values to design conservation areas for BC′s Central Coast.
Gonzales, Emily*,1, Arcese, Peter1, Schultz, Rueben1, 1 University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada
ABSTRACT- The 4.8 million ha Land and Coastal Resource Management Plan for British Columbia′s (BC) Central Coast is slated for completion in 2003. The 2001 proposal to protect 31% of this area was hailed as a victory for environmentalists. But is it a victory for the environment? Historically, ad hoc conservation areas designs have not protected representative biological richness. Other values, such as economic concerns, have also constrained optimal conservation areas design. Designing conservation areas is too complex and too data intensive for an ad hoc process. We demonstrate a strategic approach that optimises ecological objectives while satisfying economic values. We used the planning tool SITES, software that employs spatial data and optimisation procedures, to explore alternative designs to the 2001 proposal. We optimised habitat for seven vertebrate species including marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) and grizzlies (Ursus arctos), three old growth tree types, and emphasised rare ecosystems, while restricting the solutions to a 31% area constraint and minimising timber volume. Our alternative conservation areas protect more wildlife habitat, old growth tree types, and rare ecosystems within the forest industry-type constraints compared to the 2001 proposal. However, the 2001 proposal features more large, intact areas than our solutions. We present the trade-offs of each design.
KEY WORDS: conservation, biodiversity, land management, forestry