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Conserv Biol. 2015 Jun;29(3):765-74. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12434. Epub 2014 Dec 11.

A conservation planning approach to mitigate the impacts of leakage from protected area networks.

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Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Botany, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Melbourne, VIC 3010, Australia.
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Geography, Planning and Environmental Management, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, QLD, 4072, Australia.
Global Change Institute, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, 4072, Australia.
Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions, School of Biological Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland 4072, Australia.
Centre for Tropical Environmental and Sustainability Science and the School of Marine and Tropical Biology, James Cook University, Smithfield, QLD, 4878, Australia.
Department of Agricultural and Consumer Economics, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, 61801, U.S.A.


Protected area networks are designed to restrict anthropogenic pressures in areas of high biodiversity. Resource users respond by seeking to replace some or all of the lost resources from locations elsewhere in the landscape. Protected area networks thereby perturb the pattern of human pressures by displacing extractive effort from within protected areas into the broader landscape, a process known as leakage. The negative effects of leakage on conservation outcomes have been empirically documented and modeled using homogeneous descriptions of conservation landscapes. Human resource use and biodiversity vary greatly in space, however, and a theory of leakage must describe how this heterogeneity affects the magnitude, pattern, and biodiversity impacts of leakage. We combined models of household utility, adaptive human foraging, and biodiversity conservation to provide a bioeconomic model of leakage that accounts for spatial heterogeneity. Leakage had strong and divergent impacts on the performance of protected area networks, undermining biodiversity benefits but mitigating the negative impacts on local resource users. When leakage was present, our model showed that poorly designed protected area networks resulted in a substantial net loss of biodiversity. However, the effects of leakage can be mitigated if they are incorporated ex-ante into the conservation planning process. If protected areas are coupled with nonreserve policy instruments such as market subsidies, our model shows that the trade-offs between biodiversity and human well-being can be further and more directly reduced.


diseño de reservas; displaced effort; dynamic landscape modeling; esfuerzo desplazado; habitat loss; household utility; modelación de terrenos dinámicos; planificación sistemática de la conservación; pérdida de hábitat; reserve design; retroalimentación socio-económica; socioeconomic feedbacks; systematic conservation planning; utilidad del hogar

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