Spatial Analysis of Conservation Priorities Based on Ecosystem Services in the Atlantic Forest Region of Misiones, Argentina

Forests 2012, 3(3)

Andrea E. Izquierdo and Matthew L. Clark

“Understanding the spatial pattern of ecosystem services is important for effective environmental policy and decision-making. In this study, we use a geospatial decision-support tool (Marxan) to identify conservation priorities for habitat and a suite of ecosystem services (storage carbon, soil retention and water yield) in the Upper Paraná Atlantic Forest from Misiones, Argentina—an area of global conservation priority. Using these results, we then evaluate the efficiency of existing protected areas in conserving both habitat and ecosystem services.

Maps of the analyzed ecosystem services.

Maps of the analyzed ecosystem services.

“Selected areas for conserving habitat had an overlap of carbon and soil ecosystem services. Yet, selected areas for water yield did not have this overlap. Furthermore, selected areas with relatively high overlap of ecosystem services tended to be inside protected areas; however, other important areas for ecosystem services (i.e., central highlands) do not have legal protection, revealing the importance of enforcing existing environmental regulations in these areas.”