NCASI, Memorial University publish paper on a review of systematic conservation planning

Landscapes maintained and managed as protected areas are often proposed to protect special ecological spaces or values (watersheds, critical habitat for threatened species), or to act as reserves to maintain biodiversity. Systematic Conservation Planning (SCP) is an approach to protected areas planning that follows a step-by-step process. Steps in the process are to

  1. compile data on the biodiversity of the planning region,
  2. identify conservation goals for the planning region,
  3. review existing conservation areas,
  4. select additional conservation sites,
  5. implement conservation actions, and
  6. maintain the required values of conservation areas.

In order to determine how well the process has been applied in conservation programs globally, NCASI and Memorial University of Newfoundland recently conducted a review of the literature on SCP. Results of the review are published in the current issue of The Forestry Chronicle.

Findings suggest that plans for protected areas varied in how well they considered data uncertainty, and many used so-called “data free” conservation targets without clear rationales, which have been shown to under-represent natural features. Further, the median size of planning units applied (2,500 ha) is too small to meet minimum area requirements for many species.

The review highlights the variation with which the SCP steps are applied, as well as some of the uncertainty inherent in implementing these steps, which should help with identification of best practices for achieving conservation effectiveness and efficiency. However, very few SCP efforts have been implemented, making it difficult to assess their effectiveness or efficiency in practice.  

Contact information 


Wiersma, Y.F. and D.J.H. Sleep. 2016. A review of applications of the six-step method of systematic conservation planning. The Forestry Chronicle 92(3):322-335.