Participatory Development of a New Interactive Tool for Capturing Social and Ecological Dynamism in Conservation Prioritization

Landscape and Urban PlanningLandscape and Urban Planning, Volume 114, June 2013, Pages 80–91

By Petina L. Pert, Scott N. Lieske, and Rosemary Hill

“Highlights

  • The Collaborative Habitat Investment Atlas is an interactive spatial tool.
  • Allows display and rapid adjustment to stakeholder and habitat values.
  • Enables on-the-fly changes to “optimal” landscape designs values.
  • Models “levels of protection” of multiple habitat laws at many scales.
  • Outputs include maps of habitat prioritization for multi-scalar planning.

“Conservation tools have historically been oriented toward optimization for singular decision-makers. A new generation of participatory tools is now appearing and have begun to recognize multiple human values and decision-makers. However, very few tools accommodate a fully interactive process that can account for both ecological and social dynamism and complexity. The Collaborative Habitat Investment Atlas (CHIA) is a participatory tool for conservation prioritization with a strong visual and dynamic capability. The CHIA promotes interaction among stakeholders through two aspects: stakeholders’ ability to alter variable weights to reflect different biodiversity protection requirements; and formula-based dynamic attributes that immediately update results visually.

The overall CHIA modeling process showing engagements and stakeholder values incorporated by slider-bar functionality, data attributes, dynamic updating of attributes (as values adjusted by slider-bars), biodiversity model, level of protection model and threat model and an example of conservation prioritization output map.

The overall CHIA modeling process showing engagements and stakeholder values incorporated by slider-bar functionality, data attributes, dynamic updating of attributes (as values adjusted by slider-bars), biodiversity model, level of protection model and threat model and an example of conservation prioritization output map.

“This paper documents the development of the CHIA within its role as a part of an overall adaptive community-based natural resource management pilot project in Australia’s globally significant humid tropical forests. There are two primary innovations of this approach. The first innovation is the dynamic updating of values and other data, allowing rapid feedback on “what-if?” type questions and enhances the public engagement processes. The second innovation is the recognition and spatial description of different levels of protection across the landscape. Results include parcel-based maps that display the three models: biodiversity importance, level of protection and threat. Additionally, the three models were combined and two examples of suitability maps to aid conservation decision-making are included. When integrated into a conservation planning process the CHIA opens lines of communication, allows exploration of alternatives and enables prioritization of investment that captures the diversity of stakeholder preferences in multiple social decision making contexts.”