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Balancing ecosystem and threatened species representation in protected areas and implications for nations achieving global conservation goals
 

Polak T, Watson JEM, Bennett JR, Possingham HP, Fuller RA & Carwardine J (2016) Balancing ecosystem and threatened species representation in protected areas and implications for nations achieving global conservation goals. Conservation Letters, 9, 438-445.

Balancing the representation of ecosystems and threatened species habitats is critical for optimizing protected area (PA) networks and achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity strategic goals. Here we provide a systematic approach for maximizing representativeness of ecosystems and threatened species within a constrained total PA network size, using Australia as a case study. We show that protection of 24.4% of Australia is needed to achieve 17% representation for each ecosystem and all threatened species habitat targets. When the size of the PA estate is constrained, trade-off curves between ecosystem and species targets are J-shaped, indicating potential “win-win” configurations. For example, optimally increasing the current PA network to 17% could protect 9% of each ecosystem and ensure that all threatened species achieve at least 78% of their targets. This method of integrating species and ecosystem targets in PA planning allows nations to maximize different PA goals under financial and geographical constraints.
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