Ecosystem service benefits of contrasting conservation strategies in a human-dominated region

TitleEcosystem service benefits of contrasting conservation strategies in a human-dominated region
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsEigenbrod, F, Anderson, BJ, Armsworth, PR, Heinemeyer, A, Jackson, SF, Parnell, M, Thomas, CD, Gaston, KJ
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Date Published08/22/2009
ISBN Number0962-8452, 1471-2954
KeywordsBiodiversity, ecosystem services, land management, Protected areas, sustainability

The hope among policy-makers and scientists alike is that conservation strategies designed to protect biodiversity also provide direct benefits to people by protecting other vital ecosystem services. The few studies that have examined the delivery of ecosystem services by existing conservation efforts have concentrated on large, ‘wilderness’-style biodiversity reserves. However, such reserves are not realistic options for densely populated regions. Here, we provide the first analyses that compare representation of biodiversity and three other ecosystem services across several contrasting conservation strategies in a human-dominated landscape (England). We show that small protected areas and protected landscapes (restrictive zoning) deliver high carbon storage and biodiversity, while existing incentive payment (agri-environment) schemes target areas that offer little advantage over other parts of England in terms of biodiversity, carbon storage and agricultural production. A fourth ecosystem service—recreation—is under-represented by all three strategies. Our findings are encouraging as they illustrate that restrictive zoning can play a major role in protecting natural capital assets in densely populated regions. However, trade-offs exist even among the four ecosystem services we considered, suggesting that a portfolio of conservation and sustainability investments will be needed to deliver both biodiversity and the other ecosystem services demanded by society.

Short TitleProc. R. Soc. B