The effectiveness of protected areas in meeting ecological and socio-economic goals of conservation
My SESYNC project proposal focuses on understanding gaps between ecological and socio-economic goals of conservation and current terrestrial protected areas. I will identify quantifiable metrics based on goals used in the conservation planning research literature. These goal-based metrics, ranging from ecological (e.g. endemic species, rare habitats) to socio-economic (e.g. human population density, agricultural expansion) will be a common thread through all stages of the project. This project will first examine gaps between current governmental protected areas and the highest priority areas for each of the identified goal-based metrics. I will conduct this analysis globally, by continent and at two time steps (2000, 2015). The outcome will be an understanding of covariation between metrics and a ranking of metrics based on their representation in governmental protected areas. Next, I will conduct regional case studies using non-governmental organization (NGO) conservation land purchases in the USA and South America. I will evaluate whether these land purchases differ from governmental protected areas in their concordance with priorities for different metrics. I will rank the NGO protected land parcels based on their value for each metric and then, adding parcel cost information, based on their return on investment (ROI). I will also apply hypothetical scenarios incorporating budget restrictions. I recognize that organizations’ actions should be interpreted relative to identified goals and are a reflection of organizational strategy. Using publicly available planning documents for each NGO, I will re-examine case study results and identify whether additional goal-based metrics may be useful to examine land parcel value.