Biological Conservation 147 (2012) 3–12

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Biological Conservation
journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/biocon

Determining the ecological value of landscapes beyond protected areas
K.J. Willis a,b,⇑, E.S. Jeffers a, C. Tovar a, P.R. Long a, N. Caithness c, M.G.D. Smit d, R. Hagemann d, C. Collin-Hansen d, J. Weissenberger d
a

Biodiversity Institute, Oxford Martin School, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK Department of Biology, University of Bergen, Allégaten 41, N-5007 Bergen, Norway c Oxford e-Research Centre, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3QG, UK d Statoil ASA, Forusbeen 50, 4035 Stavanger, Norway
b

a r t i c l e

i n f o

a b s t r a c t
Whilst there are a number of mapping methods available for determining important areas for conservation within protected areas, there are few tools available for assessing the ecological value of landscapes that are ‘beyond the reserves’. A systematic tool for determining the ecological value of landscapes outside of protected areas could be relevant to any development that results in a parcel of land being transformed from its ‘natural’ state to an alternative state (e.g., industrial, agricultural). Specifically what is needed is a method to determine which landscapes beyond protected areas are important for the ecological processes that they support and the threatened and vulnerable species that they contain. This paper presents the results of a project to develop a method for mapping ecologically important landscapes beyond protected areas; a Local Ecological Footprinting Tool (LEFT). The method uses existing globally available web-based databases and models to provide an ecological score based on five key ecological features (biodiversity, vulnerability, fragmentation, connectivity and resilience) for every 300 m parcel within a given region. The end product is a map indicating ecological value across the landscape. We demonstrate the potential of this method through its application to three study regions in Canada, Algeria and the Russian Federation. The primary audience of this tool are those practitioners involved in planning the location of any landscape scale industrial/business or urban (e.g., new town) facility outside of protected areas. It provides a pre-planning tool, for use before undertaking a more costly field-based environmental impact assessment, and quickly highlights areas of high ecological value to avoid in the location of facilities. Ó 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Article history: Received 18 April 2011 Received in revised form 30 October 2011 Accepted 2 November 2011 Available online 28 January 2012 Keywords: Biodiversity valuation Connectivity Ecological footprint Fragmentation Threatened species Resilience

1. Introduction Protected areas have long been the mainstay of biodiversity conservation with 12% of land currently under some form of protection (Jenkins and Joppa, 2009) and a commitment to increase this to 15–20% by 2020 (Stokstad, 2010). There are a number of excellent tools available for mapping conservation priorities within these protected landscapes (e.g., C-Plan, Pressey et al., 2009; Marxan, Ball et al., 2009; and Zonation, Moilanen, 2007). However, users of the outputs of systematic conservation planning tools have traditionally treated land outside of the protected area network as ‘‘scorched earth’’, i.e., as providing no benefit to biodiversity conservation (Edwards et al., 2010). Landscapes beyond protected areas are increasingly being recognised as important for providing ecological and evolutionary processes essential for the long-term persistence of biodiversity
⇑ Corresponding author at: Biodiversity Institute, Oxford Martin School, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK. Tel.: +44 1865 281321. E-mail address: Kathy.willis@zoo.ox.ac.uk (K.J. Willis).
0006-3207/$ - see front matter Ó 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2011.11.001

both within and beyond protected areas (Bengtsson et al., 2003; Carroll et al., 2010; Chazdon et al., 2009; Mathur and Sinha, 2008). Key biotic and abiotic features of these landscapes include their role in the provision of corridors between reserves (e.g., through waterways, wetlands, Edwards et al., 2010) and as refuges for species given future range-shifts resulting from climate change (e.g., Carroll et al., 2010). It is also recognised that many threatened and protected species have significant populations outside of protected areas (IUCN, 2009) and that the majority of species migration routes occur beyond protected areas (Riede, 2004). Consideration is also needed of the landscape scale features that are important to maintain resilient ecosystems (Bengtsson et al., 2003; Klein et al., 2009). These biotic and abiotic features have numerous different spatial configurations across the landscape. All landscapes outside of the protected areas are not, therefore, equal in terms of ecological value. This point is particularly relevant when considering placement of business facilities, industrial operations and even the building of solar and wind farms; where can they be built that will have least ecological impact? There are currently very few tools available for mapping conservation

2010) overlays the study area and extends to the south for 300 km. 2°280 44.1.html).4 K.. 2009). These areas were selected to represent a wide variety of eco-regions at different geographical locations and varying data availabilities. we set out to devise a method that would have a simple user input. The aim of this project therefore was to devise a simple and quick. These criteria represent both the current ecological properties of . 72°260 58. 2010). There is also often a consideration of the contiguous nature of the habitat supporting the species. has less ecological value than a large undisturbed patch (for recent review see Tjørve.html). Current land use is dominated by nomadic pastoralism.org https://www.5 km. which is a lowland tundra situated upon a thick layer of permafrost (http://www.. There are many different metrics to consider at varying spatial and temporal scales. There are 70 mammalian.org/science/ ecoregions/item1847. and/or require a high level of data knowledge and input. This paper describes the multi-criteria metrics and databases that we analysed and the algorithms developed to create a methodology to assess the ecological value of parcels of land across a landscape for any location in the world. which is characterised by continuous mid-boreal mixed coniferous and deciduous forest across a variable topography with discontinuous permafrost cover (http://www. There is one protected area. Identification of data sources and models to determine ecological criteria Through a series of workshops with practitioners and a detailed literature review. combined with well-established models and algorithms could be used to provide a baseline of ecological information for any site in the world. The Alberta site is located within the mid-continental Canadian forest eco-region. large mammal migration paths and/or methods to incorporate areas that appear to be more resilient to environmental perturbations because of the combination of biotic/abiotic features that they contain (Klein et al. models and algorithms to produce mapped output at a spatial scale relevant to most landscape scale planning decisions (<0. Those that are available tend to be region or country-specific (e.5 km). The options to relocate a facility due to impact on ecological processes at this point in the decision making process are also extremely limited. these measures are based on observed biological patterns of conservation ‘assets’ or ‘actors’ but lack information on the ecological processes that support ecosystem functioning (Bennett et al. taxonomic uniqueness (Vane Wright et al. flyways.html). 2007) in order to secure both the arenas and the actors (Beier and Brost.org/science/ecoregions/item1847. which is 40 km to the west of the study area (UNEP-WCMC.J.1600 N. 111°270 13.519400 N. that effective planning for ecological processes requires a multi-criteria assessment approach that incorporates all of these important measures of ecological integrity (Regan et al.naturserve.ibatforbusiness. Typically.worldwildlife. rivers.. 2009).org). All these studies agree. it contains a relatively large number of species that are adapted to this high stress environment (http://www. 2010).worldwildlife. 2010). Study areas Three study areas were chosen to determine an ecological valuation of the landscape: one in Alberta. 90 avian and 100 reptilian species known to reside within the Saharan Desert eco-region (http://www. Beyond the oases.. ideally <0. they do not consider the overall footprint of the development upon important ecological processes on the landscape. Canada (55°490 5. Oases are also present in the landscape.worldwildlife. The Algeria site is located within the Saharan Desert eco-region which is hyper-arid. yet effective method for determination of important ecological features and processes on landscapes beyond protected areas. several studies that have attempted to include additional factors in conservation planning that prioritise according to the ‘dynamic’ features of the landscape including wetlands.759400 E) and one on the Yamal Peninsula in Russia (72°180 47.g. The focus here was to determine what freely available spatial data from the internet. Willis et al. Currently the mainstays of ecological assessment by businesses for landscapes beyond protected areas are site Biodiversity Action Plans and Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) (Slootweg. which is also designated as a World Heritage Site and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve (UNEP-WCMC.. 1994).org/ science/ecoregions/item1847. 3. They also tend to occur once a decision has been made regarding where to develop. Algeria and Russia. and (3) be at a scale that is relevant to the extent of most development concessions. In addition. Recently.org/action_site_bap. five criteria were determined as being of primary importance to the ecological valuation of a landscape. (2) make use of free spatial data available for almost any location worldwide. 2009. the sparse vegetation is highly adapted to the hyper-arid climate via the persistence of the seed bank that allows for masting during high rainfall years. It then describes results from testing this methodology for three case study regions in Canada. one in central Algeria (27°190 33. The Yamal Peninsula Russia study area is located within the Yamal-Gydan Tundra ecoregion.org/) which facilitate access to accurate and up-to-date biodiversity information but this again focuses on key biodiversity areas and legally protected areas and produces mapped output at a spatial scale ($20 km) that is often too coarse for most landscape planning decisions. 2010).. has minimal perennial vegetation cover and low species richness and endemism.org/science/ecoregions/item1847. Current land uses in the eco-region include forestry and oil and gas development. 2. fragmentation. 1986). Additionally. The Yamal’skiy marine protected area (UNEPWCMC.2400 N. Underlying assumptions associated with this method include: (1) that it should be based on multiple valuation factors. Whilst these assessments yield an estimate of the species present in an area proposed for development.200 E). namely: biodiversity. would use existing globally available databases. These provide the framework by which companies endeavour to minimise the impacts of their activities on ecosystems and habitats and ensure that planned development activities are in line with regional and national Biodiversity Action Plans (http:// www. Vegetation cover in the northern part of the peninsula is dominated by mosses and lichens with a few shrubs and grasses that support larger herds of reindeer during the summer months. rather the EIA often gives an indication of necessary mitigation measures to minimise the damage that will be caused by the development. Despite the extreme conditions. however. Methods 3. vulnerability.319400 W). rarity (Smith and Theberge. Edwards et al.html). Current land use is dominated by nomadic pastoralism. NatureServe www. Many studies indicate that a more fragmented patch of landscape. this park is about 300 km to the southeast of the study area. 1991) and irreplaceability (Pressey et al. for example. connectivity and resilience.businessandbiodiversity. However.worldwildlife. 2010). these plans are based on detailed site surveys carried out by a team of consultants. At the landscape scale probably the most common measures adopted to date are indices of species richness. How to measure ecological value is complex. there exist tools such as iBat for business (iBatforbusiness.. / Biological Conservation 147 (2012) 3–12 priorities outside of reserves. The nearest protected area to the study area is the Tassilin’Ajjer National Park. where perennial vegetation and agriculture is present. Crow Lake.html).

GDM predictions of compositional dissimilarity for every possible pair of sites within the study area were made in the statistical software package R using the Table 1 Factors to be included in a local ecological footprint tool for assessing ecological integrity across a landscape and the available data source. 2006). however. We found that there are very few regions in the world that have appropriate densities of GBIF records to allow this approach. Zhao et al. BIOCLIMd IUCN Red Liste GLOBCOVERf Global Lakes and Wetlands Databaseb. 2004) as contained in the study area and to remove any duplicate records of species occurrence in one location. resilience). The biodiversity data were filtered to retain only those occurrences recorded in locations within the same eco-regions (Olson et al. led by MEDIAS-France) as the base layer for the LEFT. spatially continuous geographic data. 2002).. Table 2 Environmental covariates used in generalised dissimilarity modelling per biological group. In order to determine a measure of species occurrence in the study area. biodiversity. corridors). Data for the abiotic variables in study area (climate.org). and it was these data which were used to generate predicted compositional dissimilarity for our study area. Ferrier et al. Willis et al. lake and wetland features.org/). we used the data contained in the Global Biodiversity Information Facility database (GBIF. Riede et al.gbif. led by MEDIAS-France. Factor Biodiversity Vulnerability Fragmentation Connectivity Resilience a b c d e f g h Definition Compositional turnover with respect to environmental covariates The number of threatened species present The size of the vegetation patch River. 2002). However. Data and models (described below) were then assimilated to calculate these criteria and an algorithm developed to sum the criteria into an overall dimensionless indicator of ecological value to enable a mapped output (see Table 1). global data were available at every 90 m sized pixel (i.b total annual precipitation.. temperature seasonality. 700 km  700 km) around our study areas for constructing the GDM. we set a minimum number of species per biological group (e.. BIOCLIM. Ideally we would use species richness as well as compositional turnover to estimate diversity across a landscape using a approach such as ecological niche factor analysis (Hirzel et al. there is no minimum requirement for the number of species occurrences.) at 10 for inclusion of each group in the modelling in order to be able to robustly parameterise a GDM for that group. plants. mammals and reptiles Plants a b c Predictor variables Distance to water bodies. 2009. birds.e. total annual precipitation. soils.2. precipitation seasonality Annual mean temperature. IUCN. / Biological Conservation 147 (2012) 3–12 5 the landscape (e. we selected vegetation cover at 300 m pixel size resolution (GLOBCOVER.. Ó ESA GlobCover Project.g... Biodiversity For most regions in the world there will rarely be enough detailed species data to obtain a clear picture of the biodiversity. threatened species) and the key features important for supporting ecosystem functions (e.c soil water holding capacity Global Lakes and Wetlands Database and HYDROSHEDS. Ferrier and Guisan. It also contains fossil records but these were removed from the analyses. Harmonized World Soil Database. HYDROSHEDSc and Global Registry of Migratory Speciesg MODIS/TERRA NPP Yearly L4 Global 1 km SIN Grid V004h and BIOCLIM Global Biodiversity Information Facility (http://www.. 2002. http://data. birds. This method predicts habitat suitability for individual species based on occurrence records and environmental covariates. (2008) Hijmans et al. fragmentation. temperature seasonality. one picture element in a raster or remotely sensed image) for elevation (topography) to 10 km sized pixels for soil characteristics.g. These data were then used in a Generalised Dissimilarity Model to determine the compositional turnover in the study area which is the rate of change in species composition with respect to the environmental variables (Ferrier et al. To determine the finest spatial resolution possible for determining an ecological value of a landscape we examined the range of readily available. and resilience. to estimate species richness using such models requires more than around 30 records per species (Zaniewski et al..a annual mean temperature.g. connectivity (migration routes. Biological group Amphibians.gbif. . wetlands. The GBIF Data Portal currently provides access to more than 300 million records of species occurrence worldwide. (2001). the study area is divided into 300 m sized pixels and the other data layers are superimposed upon this in order to calculate values for each of the ecological indicators. The number of migratory species present The ability to sustain high rates of net primary productivity in areas of low precipitation Data source GBIFa. 2002).K. Species richness is then estimated as the sum of species for which habitat suitability exceeds a given threshold.J. Given how important a knowledge of the vegetation cover is for calculation of many of the variables (biodiversity. habitat integrity. precipitation seasonality.e. 3. Output from this model highlights areas that are more different to their neighbours than other areas within the landscape in terms of their species assemblage and thus provides a measure of heterogeneity per unit area. hydrosheds) were obtained from other global databases (see Table 2). Ó ESA GlobCover Project.. 2002. therefore. Biodiversity data were obtained for a larger area (i. Lehner and Döll (2004) Lehner et al. (2009). % nitrogen in soil. Since GDMs evaluate assemblages of species. etc... (2005). It is therefore necessary to model predictive diversity across the landscape using a combination of point species occurrences and environmental variables to predict diversity on landscape (Hirzel et al.

all other pixels were given a value of zero (i. lakes and wetlands) and resilience measures were already in binary integer values and thus required no conversion. however. Fragmentation There is a vast ecological literature demonstrating the ecological importance of habitat integrity and ‘intactness’ and the impact of fragmentation on biodiversity (see Fahrig (2003) for review). However. or NT) terrestrial vertebrate within each study area (birds.g.4. 3... Range polygons of globally threatened (CR. we retained all globally threatened species to maintain the breadth of species potentially present in our study areas. We used the GROMS maps in the same way as the IUCN polygons: we calculated the number of migratory species ranges which intersect each pixel and those pixels that had the highest number of migration routes occurring across them were deemed to be of higher ecological value. GROMS currently contains a list of 2880 migratory vertebrate species in digital format and digital maps for 545 of these species. To determine climatic resilience we adopted the approach used by Klein et al. burning. The resulting index highlights the pixels containing the most resilient patches of vegetation based on the ability to retain productivity despite low rainfall.wwf) (Lehner et al.000 species globally. 3. 2008) and the Global Lakes and Wetlands database GLWD3 wetland classification (Lehner and Döll. 2001). To determine the pixels that supported river corridors and/or wetlands (and the pixels immediately adjacent to these) we used data available in the HYDROSHEDS 15-arc-second river network database (hydrosheds. Where multiple biological groups were modelled. open forest. All bare areas. 2009). similar vegetation cover were assumed to have a higher ecological value. lakes and agricultural areas were assigned a value of zero. Pixels which were situated within a riverine corridor or wetland were given a higher ecological score. greater complexity in food webs etc.groms. In general the greater the patch size.org/). Larger areas of continuous. Vulnerability In order to assess vulnerability of an area in terms of the potential loss of important species if the area was damaged. Prior to running FRAGSTATS. the higher its functionality (greater diversity. as yet no global datasets are yet available that can be harnessed to produce a relative measure of resilience to such environmental disturbances across space. This was achieved by setting the minimum value to zero and dividing the individual values per pixel by the maximum value of each measure. of which about 28. we used total NPP in the year 2005 since this was the year in which the GLOBCOVER data was created. 2007) and the results were imported into MATLAB where a distance weighted average (using the inverse square distance measure) of all pair-wise combinations was calculated per site. Areas characterised by human activities. The software FRAGSTATS (McGarigal et al. Folke et al. 2004). . 3. Pixels demonstrating higher levels of compositional dissimilarity were treated as having a higher ecological value. / Biological Conservation 147 (2012) 3–12 GDM package (Ferrier et al.. We calculated quartiles for the precipitation and NPP data per vegetation type within the study area. Summary ecological value In order to ascribe a dimensionless ecological value to each 300 m pixel that incorporates all five measures described above.5 was assigned to pixels that were in the upper quartile of productivity and the second lowest quartile of rainfall.6 K. Zhao et al.e. we retained the highest value of compositional dissimilarity per pixel in order to report the highest potential value of compositional dissimilarity which could occur in that pixel.5. Resilience is therefore an important ecological feature of any landscape and areas that can maintain resilience despite climate/environmental disturbance are of high ecological significance. (2009) that focuses on the ability of a parcel of land to maintain productivity – a fundamental aspect of ecosystem functioning – despite relatively high water stress.iucnredlist. Ideally a measure of resilience to environmental disturbances (e.6... then applied the following rules for assessing the resilience value of each pixel: a value of 1 (i.. connectivity (rivers.de) and (ii) waterways and wetlands.. To ensure that NPP data were consistent with the vegetation cover data.000 have spatial data (http:// www. 2005) to identify patterns across space in the level of productivity of each vegetation type given spatial variations in rainfall. soil erosion) should also be calculated.7. the actual maximum value is dependent on the availability of the data for each study site. we standardised the values of each factor to an index between zero and one.e. mammals. It therefore provides a large number of polygons of migratory ranges and distributions of species that migrate across national boundaries (Riede and Kunz. 1973.). EN. The output was transferred back into a GIS platform for visualisation. Willis et al. 2002) was used to define a patch using the rule of eight pixels (orthogonal and diagonal adjacency) and to estimate the natural logarithm of the area of each patch (ha). we reclassified the GLOBCOVER vegetation categories into the following groups: closed forest. the highest resilience) was assigned to pixels that were in both the upper quartile of NPP and the lower quartile of rainfall. Connectivity Connectivity across a landscape either through riverine corridors and/or other migratory routes is essential to any ecologically functioning landscape. 3.J. 2009) per vegetation type (determined by GLOBCOVER) were overlaid with data of the typical precipitation of the driest quarter (WORLDCLIM bio17. bare areas.. reptiles and amphibians) were obtained and overlain in order to count the number of globally threatened terrestrial vertebrates potentially present in each pixel. a value of 0. Resilience Ecological resilience is the capacity of a system to undergo disturbance and maintain its functions and controls (Holling. non-natural and bare areas were automatically set a value of zero for patch size. Pixels with more globally threatened species potentially present were treated here as having a higher ecological value. therefore. 2004). Hijmans et al.. Values of annualized net primary productivity (NPP. we summed the value of each factor together to provide an overall indication of ecological value per pixel according to the formula: Summary ecological value = Biodiversity + Vulnerability + Fragmentation + Connectivity + Resilience. we used the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (IUCN. After standardisation. The maximum ecological value for any pixel was therefore six given that there are two complementary measures of connectivity. We calculated patch size according to similar vegetation type based on the classes in the GLOBCOVER dataset.3. 3. lakes. While it is possible to filter or weight species by their threat category. water/snow/ice. A key feature to try and retain on any landscape. more pollinators. is habitat integrity. We therefore include a calculation to prioritize pixels that support migratory processes. VU. Two complimentary factors that represent migration processes across the landscape were included namely (i) migration routes as identified in the Global Register of Migratory Species GROMS (www. the lowest value) for resilience. The 2010 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species has assessments for $56. forest/shrub/grass mosaic. The biodiversity.

mammals (n = 18 species) amphibians (n = 10 species) and plants (n = 545 species). which is associated in space with the boundary between unconsolidated bare areas (i. with large areas of continuous boreal forest and with some smaller areas of wetland along the western edge of the study area.. The summary ecological valuation map is presented in Fig. The IUCN threatened species list indicates that the study area contains two globally threatened species both of which potentially occur across the whole study area (Supplementary data Fig. GBIF species occurrences for the Algeria site indicate that only bird species can be used in the GDM modelling (n = 27) since there were not enough data for mammals (n = 7). 1f). 2.K.1. Using this data in combination with the environmental co-variates (Table 2) the GDM output demonstrates that predicted biodiversity is the highest in the northwestern portion of the study area. connectivity (due to migratory species plus the landscape features that support migration) and resilience. 5. we manually downloaded all of the spatial data and projected it into the Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) coordinate system. 1e). Canada study area. vulnerability. The greatest number of international migratory species appears to be concentrated in the north central part of the large continuous patch of closed needle-leaved forest.J. Alberta. especially in the east where there are numerous wetlands. sand dunes) and consolidated bare areas (Supplementary data Fig. in pixels that contain closed needle-leaved evergreen forest and lakes (Supplementary data Fig. A desert region with sparse vegetation cover except for that present on intermittent wetlands (oases) in the centre of the area. Other areas of high resilience are scattered around the study area. In terms of the vulnerability measure. results from FRAGSTATS reveals that there is a wide range in vegetation patch size in this study area from less than 1 ha to over 1000 ha (Supplementary data Fig. 5. Once calculated. the summary ecological value for each pixel was plotted on a final map layer ArcGIS 10 to display differences in value across the landscape. data from the IUCN Red Data list of Threatened species indicates that there three different globally threatened species predicted to occur within the study Fig. shrubland and grasslands. fragmentation. Data handling and display For the study areas described above. 1. We set the study area at 100 km  100 km and each 300 m pixel within this area was evaluated for its ecological value using the algorithm described above. reptiles (n = 3) or amphibians (n = 0). Willis et al. Results 5. Output from GBIF indicates that in this region there are point occurrences for birds (n = 282 species). Algeria The Globcover map for the study region is presented in Fig. This area is marked by a dense river network and both small and large wetlands are associated with these rivers (Supplementary data Fig. The highest values (darkest grey-scale) appear to be consistent with the river boundaries. 1c).2. 2a). within the study area there are predicted to be atleast 59 internationally migratory species and the number in any location ranges from 52–59 (Supplementary data Fig. This large patch is surrounded by much smaller patches of a mosaic of forest. In terms of connectivity. 3. In terms of habitat fragmentation. This demonstrates that the highest possible ecological value for this study area is 6 (values assigned for biodiversity. plants (n = 1). 1b). 1d).e. 1a). Canada The Globcover map for the study region is presented in Fig. . The largest continuous patch consisting of closed needle-leaved deciduous and evergreen forest occupies the central region of the study area. 1. The resilience measure indicated that the areas of highest resilience are in the north-west corner of the landscape (Supplementary data Fig. Output from the GDM modelling using the bird data combined with environmental covariates (Table 2) indicated highest beta diversity in the central and southwestern portions of the study region. / Biological Conservation 147 (2012) 3–12 7 4.

2e). The predicted range of these species appears to be concentrated in the northwestern region of the study area. 3c). Output from GROMS indicates that there are at least eight internationally migrating species that are expected to utilise the habitat around the Algerian study area (Supplementary data Fig. which is desert habitat and far away from human settlements that tend to concentrate around the wetland areas. therefore. The largest patch is found in the southern part of the study area. there was little spatial difference in their migratory ranges. thus the only areas subject to the fragmentation assessment is the tiny patch of vegetation in the centre of the study area (Supplementary data Fig. there is little to no vegetation cover within the study area. In terms of a vulnerability calculation. The summary ecological value for the Algerian study area is presented in Fig. a landscape that is predominantly covered by grasslands and shrublands and interspersed with small water bodies. Results from the fragmentation calculation using FRAGSTATS was good and indicated variation in patch sizes ranging from <1 ha to 3200 ha (Supplementary data Fig. two connectivity measures and resilience (i. the maximum value of the summary ecological value for this site is 5. A measure of connectivity was also possible for this site. (e) connectivity from rivers. It was not therefore possible to calculate a measure of betadiversity for this region. 3f) indicated a patchy distribution of resilient vegetation across the landscape. These layers are overlaid to determine the (g) summary value of each pixel within the Canadian study area (see also Supplementary data Fig. (b) vulnerability. Despite the hyper-aridity of the area. (c) fragmentation.J.) region. The resulting map indicates that the majority of the study area has low relative ecological value (Fig.03 ha. This area is surrounded by largely continuous desert land cover. It was not possible to assess the differences in resilience of vegetation across space for this area (Supplementary data Fig. 1a–f. (Supplementary data Figs. 5. In the northern part of the study area there are also numerous patches of regularly flooded vegetation and open forest. fragmentation.. Measures of ecological value for the Canadian study area including: (a) beta-diversity.3. All three occur in the northern portion of the study area. 4 and is based on biodiversity. Russia The Globcover map for the Yamal peninsula study region is presented in Fig. As this region is part of the Saharan desert. 2c). including both deciduous and evergreen forest. / Biological Conservation 147 (2012) 3–12 Fig. 6). 6) for the Russian study area is therefore based on 5 of the possible 6 layers: vulnerability. 2b). 2d).e. 3b). Results from this map indicate the areas of highest ecological value are along the coastline and along the river and wetland networks (Fig. the IUCN Red data list for Threatened Species indicates that there are two globally threatened terrestrial vertebrates that are predicted to occur in the study area (Supplementary data Fig. This vegetation cover is so sparse that the maximum patch size is about 0. . where the land cover is primarily consolidated bare areas (Supplementary data Fig. GROMs indicates that there are at least 21 migratory animals predicted to occur in the study area. Willis et al. 4) while there are small patches of higher ecological value at the sites of the intermittent wetlands (in the northeast and southwest) and around the few patches of vegetation cover (central area). 3d and 3e) The resilience measure (Supplementary data Fig. vulnerability. which is consistent with the highest values of connectivity and vulnerability. oases) within the study area that may provide support for the migratory bird species that are known to occur in the Tasslin’Ajjer National Park and these pixels are detected in the connectivity layer (Supplementary data Fig. (f) vegetation resilience. lakes and wetlands. This is due to the extreme aridity of the Saharan Desert and the resulting high variability in vegetation cover over each year resulting in no consistency between the NPP data and vegetation cover. 2. fragmentation and both indicators of connectivity. there are intermittent wetlands (i. Another region of high ecological value is the northern boundary of the study area. 2f). 5. Results from GBIF indicate a serious data gap of species occurrences for this region with only four mammal species and eight plant species recorded (Biodiversity Data from GBIF)..8 K. (d) connectivity due to migratory species. The summary ecological value map (Fig. the maximum value is five).e.

/ Biological Conservation 147 (2012) 3–12 9 Fig. (d) connectivity due to migratory species. (e) connectivity from rivers. The poorest data-region from our .K. Willis et al. Algeria study area. (f) vegetation resilience. this study demonstrates that it is possible to obtain an estimation of the spatial distribution of some important ecological features across a landscape and at a relatively fine spatial resolution (here at a 300 m pixel resolution). 4. but using a multi-criteria metric approach such as described here. (c) fragmentation. Discussion For all three study areas examined. some data gaps are inevitable. These layers are overlaid to determine the (g) summary ecological value of each pixel within the Algerian study area (see also Supplementary data Fig. Measures of ecological value for the Algerian study area including: (a) beta-diversity. 2a–f.) 6. lakes and wetlands.J. it would appear that even for data poor regions. 3. there is now sufficient information available in global databases to make some estimation of ecological value. (b) vulnerability. Fig. On a global scale. using globally available databases and existing models and algorithms.

information that could have relevance to sighting of industrial facilities and highlight areas of high ecological risk.10 K.. lakes and wetlands. 5. Willis et al. fragmentation and connectivity across this landscape. (e) connectivity from rivers. Measures of ecological value for the Russian study area including: (a) beta-diversity. 6. Russia study area. / Biological Conservation 147 (2012) 3–12 Fig. The difference . three case-studies was northern Russia – but it was still possible to obtain spatial information sufficient to map vulnerability. In addition to the data gaps however. 3a–f). Fig.J. (d) connectivity due to migratory species. The main limitation is the coarse resolution of some of the input data. especially from the species distribution ranges (Palminteri et al. (c) fragmentation. (b) vulnerability. 2011). there are also sources of uncertainty associated with these global databases which need to be acknowledged from the outset. (f) vegetation resilience. These layers are overlaid to determine and (g) summary ecological value of each pixel within the Russian study area (see also Supplementary data Fig.

P. M. (Klein et al. K.R. P. we are undertaking a ground-truthing and uncertainty estimation exercise by comparing the results of our LEFT methodology with those obtained from high-resolution field datasets. Moberg. Use of land facets to plan for climate change: conserving the arenas. 2003. Conservation Biology 24. 701–710. To assess long-term ecological impact of a development: therefore to assess ecological value of the landscape before. Ecological Management & Restoration 10. H. We envisage that this methodology has potential for use in four stages of planning and facility location in landscapes beyond protected areas as follows: 1.. Radford. 2007). during and post-development to determine ecological improvement or loss over time when combined with field-based.. M.001.e.. this methodology is such that additional data can be incorporated if and when they are available. Wilson.org/).....E.F.11. 2005). Such a trade-off approach is starting to be considered for some site facility location projects. T.. 7. 3. In: Moilanen. (Edwards et al.. Robinson. the important ecological properties and functions of landscapes. Bennett... have) been used for systematic planning outside of protected areas. Quinn. The tool would therefore be run before the EIA and be used as a guide to appropriate areas for more detailed on-ground surveys. it can both compensate for the data gaps in some layers and also be used to support a wider variety of land-use decisions. since the focus of such approaches is on finding the best location for conservation. However. it is essential to ground-truth these species data where possible (Chapman. As mentioned in the introduction. As recently stated in a review on the state of Biodiversity markets (Madsen et al. In order to obtain a quantitative measure of uncertainty. Whilst they can (and in a few cases. Lake. http://bbop. Marxan.. J. spatial decision support tools are now being developed to inform landscape-scale forest restoration such that multiple landscape functions (ecological and economic) are maximised (Gimona & van der Horst. much less compiled in a comprehensive way’’.. Watts. H.S.). M.W. New. in the online version.. With an increasing requirement to map and value landscapes according to their ecosystem service provision. P. G. and often for landscapes where detailed data on species is far from complete.. Bengtsson.. A.R. not the actors. The GLOBCOVER information has a known accuracy level of 79. Conclusions Using the approach described. at doi:10. Reserves. Possingham. Some of the information obtained by this tool will not be routinely collected as part of the EIA and can therefore be used to provide additional sources of ecological information for a chosen development area. Watson. migratory.. Recently several methodologies have also been proposed for the conservation of landscape features important to maintaining ecosystem processes (i. J. 2011) ’’a gap in market infrastructure that persists is lack of landscape-scale ecological monitoring – while site-level ecological monitoring is not uncommon. A. 2009))..P.G.. CPlan. Emanuelsson.. P.. I. Mackey. 2009.N.Q. Ball et al.e..J. Haslem. therefore. resilience and dynamic landscapes...A. Clarke. the data is not easily available. 389–396. Possingham. L. since 2005). J. D.g....C. Furthermore. To provide the first stage of assessment in the determination of areas for Biodiversity Offsetting projects (Business and Biodiversity Offsets programme (BBOP.L. while preliminary checks are routinely conducted on GBIF data. Angelstam. T.. In addition. A. What this methodology has also demonstrated is that there is a vast amount of global data available on the web to provide enough information to demonstrate differences in ecological value across the landscape for even the remotest of study areas. The other question that needs to be addressed is how this new approach aligns with the other methodologies currently available. Willis et al. van Haaren and Fthenakis (2011) have developed a GIS-based site selection tool for locating windturbines on the landscape such that important bird areas are avoided. In particular there was a general lack of freely available remotely sensed environmental data in high latitude regions such as in the Yamal Peninsula. ground-truthed datasets.F. Similarly in restoration projects. of the landscapes under investigation even if for some regions it was only possible to measure a few indicators. Marxan and relatives Software for spatial conservation optimization.. The next steps in the LEFT development are to automate the methods described herein. I. Ihse. References Ball. Koehn.. As a pre-planning tool to be used before any site locations are determined to highlight the most ecologically sensitive regions.. B. F. U. Oxford University Press.. To provide additional information for the Environmental Impact Assessment. 4. less attention is given to the ecological versus economic tradeoffs. is provides a way of visualising the ecological value of the whole EIA study area. / Biological Conservation 147 (2012) 3–12 11 between predicted distributions and actual occurrences of the species can only be properly detected by ground-truthing the data. 2009. Use of this methodology to analyse the three study areas inevitably highlighted significant differences in data availability across the globe despite our use of globally available datasets. 2009) therefore ground-truthing can also verify the classification of vegetation and whether vegetation change has occurred since the MERIS data used in the GLOBCOVER classification were acquired (i..P. 2010). Newell. The uncertainty associated with the GBIF points is related to the correct estimation of coordinates from the original source. B. 2. However. M.biocon. future work plans to include a comparative analysis of the output from the approach described herein with the output from high-resolution. Menkhorst. Supplementary data Supplementary data associated with this article can be found. Mac Nally. Lunt. these measures and tools have been developed almost exclusively for use in strategic conservation planning exercises. it is inevitable that economic/ecological trade-offs will need to be considered more often (de Groot et al. Ambio 32.D. Cheal. Brost. Oxford. 2009. Additionally... Folke. J. and Zonation. something that is of much higher consideration outside of protected areas. 2007). there is an extensive literature and an excellent number of tools now available to measure ecological value for the selection of priority areas for conservation (e. for example. (Eds. Beier. 2010. R. which will perform the analysis for any location in the world within a web-based tool and end-user platform. 2009. O’Hara. there is a urgent need to devise methodologies that can map at a landscape scale..forest-trends.2011.. which are available for a variety of costs but can provide high-resolution data.R.D. Spatial Conservation Prioritization Quantitative Methods and Computational Tools.M.. Appendix A. Moilanen. G. Ecological processes: a key element in strategies for nature conservation. Yen. R.25% (Bicheron et al. their requirement for very high quality species/environmental data often means that they are of extremely limited use in data poor regions. Jones. To make full use of this approach for such regions may require accessing additional sources of remotely sensed data.F. Lumsden... we found that for all three case studies it was possible to obtain a measure of the ecological value . Russia. T.. C.1016/j... Pressey et al. Nystrom. P. A. D. 192–199. anywhere in the world. ground-truthed data. The approach we have presented in this paper is a first attempt at providing a framework to do this – and by its use of a range of ecological indicators. 2010) and evolutionary. It is also widely acknowledged that before this can happen.K... Elmqvist.

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