Integrating biodiversity indicators and economic valuation in land use management decisions

How do we evaluate trade-offs between biodiversity conservation goals and economic revenues from different land uses? How is a balance found between conservation, public spending on protected areas, sustainable economic growth and development? Weighing conservation costs on private and public lands against available biodiversity measures is the overarching challenge faced by managers and decision- makers.


A Collaborative effort in bioindicator development and trade-offs analysis

The Project will identify biodiversity priority areas weighed against the opportunity costs to help decide where next to expand the system of protected areas, consolidate existing protected areas and promote biological corridors through environmental services payments to private land owners in Costa Rica.
The project is a joint research effort by the Norwegian Institutes for Nature Research (NINA) and Water Research (NIVA), and the Costa Rican National Biodiversity Institute (INBio). The
”Bioindicators Project” is supported by the Norwegian Research Council’s Biodiversity Programme and NORAD. The project includes a collaborative agreement with the Australian Museum in the application of tools for trade-off analysis.



Do the proposed protected areas provide the most complementary biodiversity at least cost? The Project explores the trade-offs between alternative definitions of biodiversity and opportunity cost within Costa Rica’s National System of Conservation Areas (SINAC). Source: Map prepared by INBIO and GRUAS(Garcia, 1996)

TARGET - a multi-criteria tool for conservation decision analysis

The Project adapts a range of biodiversity priority-setting methods originally developed in Australia. The conceptual framework quantifies the importance of biodiversity in terms of the degree of the ”complementarity” of an area, or in other words, its marginal contribution to overall biodiversity represented in an existing system of protected areas. Areas in a region are described as containing one or more different ”attributes” which are surrogates for all biodiversity.The approach adopted by TARGET is novel in that it incorporates opportunity costs using a trade-offs approach. Employing the concept of complementarity as the basis for biodiversity value of an area, sTARGET implements a multi-criteria approach and searches for a balance between often conflicting land use objectives. The weight given to costs relative to biodiversity representation will influence the outcome regarding whether an area is selected for protection or not.

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