Strategic Conservation Planning for Terrestrial Animal Species in the Central Interior of British Columbia


  • Hannah L Horn Nature Conservancy Canada


biodiversity, British Columbia, Central Interior Ecoregional Assessment, climate change, conservation planning, Marxan analysis, Nature Conservancy of Canada, terrestrial animal species


The Nature Conservancy of Canada used an expert-driven approach to incorporate multiple animal species into an ecoregional assessment for the purpose of conservation planning in the Central Interior of British Columbia. This method has been applied in 14 ecoregions across Canada as part of the organization’s mission to “protect areas of biological diversity for their intrinsic value and for future generations” through land purchases and other land protection measures.

A team of biologists identified 100 vertebrate species considered to be of conservation concern in the study area (3 amphibians, 5 reptiles, 28 mammals, and 64 birds) and set targets for spatial representation of their occurrences and habitat. The level of conservation concern associated with each species was assessed based on its formal conservation ranking, conservation priorities set by other organizations, and observed trends and vulnerabilities in a local and provincial context. To identify areas of high conservation priority, targets for the representation of animal species, and those identified separately for plants and ecosystem units, were collectively applied in a series of simulations using Marxan site-selection software. Marxan was directed to meet coarse-filter targets for terrestrial ecosystem units as well as optimally represent fine-filter targets for plants and animals and their habitats.

The final portfolio of conservation areas is based on a “best solution” of planning units (500‑ha hexagons) that provide the most effective representation of targets at least cost over 500 Marxan simulations. These areas achieved all of the representation targets for terrestrial animals in terms of the number of element occurrences and percent area of habitat selected. Priority conservation areas are distributed across the study area, building on existing protected areas and providing increased connectivity.

Author Biography

Hannah L Horn, Nature Conservancy Canada

Hannah Horn is an independent contractor who coordinates technical projects associated with the strategic planning of lands and resources in BC.