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Viable Reserve Networks Arise From Individual Landholder Responses To Conservation Incentives

Kenneth M Chomitz, World Bank
Gustavo A. B. da Fonseca, Conservation International
Keith Alger, Conservation International
David M Stoms, University of California, Santa Barbara
Miroslav Honzák, Conservation International
Elena Charlotte Landau, Federal University of Minas Gerais
Timothy S. Thomas, World Bank
W. Wayt Thomas, New York Botanical Gardens
Frank Davis, University of California, Santa Barbara


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Conservation in densely settled biodiversity hotspots often requires setting up reserve networks that maintain sufficient contiguous habitat to support viable species populations. Because it is difficult to secure landholder compliance with a tightly constrained reserve network design, attention has shifted to voluntary incentive mechanisms, such as purchase of conservation easements by reverse auction or through a fixed-price offer. These mechanisms carry potential advantages of transparency, simplicity, and low cost. However, uncoordinated individual response to these incentives has been assumed incompatible with the conservation goal of viability, which depends on contiguous habitat and biodiversity representation. We model such incentives for southern Bahia in the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, one of the biologically richest and most threatened global biodiversity hotspots. Here, forest cover is spatially autocorrelated and associated with depressed land values, a situation that may be characteristic of long-settled areas with forests fragmented by agriculture. We find that in this situation, a voluntary incentive system can yield a reserve network characterized by large, viable patches of contiguous forest, and representation of subregions with distinct vegetation types and biotic assemblages, without explicit planning for those outcomes.

Key words

Bahia; biodiversity; conservation; conservation planning; economic instruments; land use.

Copyright © 2006 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087