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Conserv Biol. 2007 Dec;21(6):1455-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1523-1739.2007.00834.x.

Systematic conservation planning and the cost of tackling conservation conflicts with large carnivores in Italy.

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Department of Animal and Human Biology, Sapienza Università di Roma, Italy.


Conservation in Europe (including the establishment of protected areas) is undertaken mainly through legislation and on densely populated private land. Consequently, conflicts of interest arise between human economic activities and biodiversity conservation. We used a systematic approach to conservation planning to explore different conservation scenarios for the Apennine populations of wolves (Canis lupus) and bears (Ursus arctos marsicanus) in Italy. The conservation measures we considered were electrified fences and guard dogs to prevent wolves and bears from preying on sheep. We used habitat suitability models of the two species as an estimate of their distributions. Across the study area, we estimated the potential intensity of conflict caused by predation on sheep and the cost of the antipredator measures. We examined scenarios for the conservation of wolves and bears that identified systems of sites where antipredator measures should be applied to either minimize the economic cost of the plan or tackle a predetermined amount of conflict. The overall cost of the conservation plans ranged between euro1,486,000 and euro16,876,000, depending on the scenario and on the size of the conservation target. Because potential conflict intensity (i.e., potential predation) and cost of conflict resolution were correlated, the scenarios that minimized cost also minimized the amount of conflict that was addressed. Conserving these two species by addressing their predation on sheep was up to 4.36 times more expensive than conserving them by providing suitable habitat in areas of low conflict. Yet avoiding conflicts is not always desirable because it can drastically reduce the options for conservation. Choosing a conservation plan requires consideration of the level of threat to the target species and their sensitivity to conflicts.

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