Ecosystem services in conservation planning: less costly as costs and side-benefits


  • Kai Chan
  • Brian Klinkenberg


Central Interior Ecoregional Assessment, conservation planning, ecosystem services, Marxan, opportunity costs


Because of their potential to explicitly link conservation and human well-being, there is growing support to include ecosystem services in conservation planning. In this study, we explored three questions: (1) what is the most effective and efficient method of including ecosystem services in Marxan—the most widely used software tool for conservation reserve network design; (2) what reduction in estimated reserve costs is enabled by the explicit inclusion of ecosystem-service opportunity costs; and (3) what are the relationships between services across space. In conjunction with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, we answered these questions by examining the potential impact of conservation on the supply of these three ecosystem services and biodiversity in the Central Interior of British Columbia, relative to a business-asusual scenario. Our findings suggest that including ecosystem services within a conservation-planning program may be most cost-effective when these services are represented as substitutable costs or benefits (within the cost surface), rather than as targeted features.