Identify Priority Places: A Practitioner's Guide

By Reed Noss

Identifying priority areas for land conservation usually focuses on places, but successful practitioners step back first to identify the things they hope to protect – the features, characteristics, inhabitants (human and otherwise), uses, and values of the landscape. Whether they have an interest in protecting biodiversity or recreational, historic, scenic, and cultural values, the decision of where to concentrate conservation activities should arise from a coherent blend of your mission, goals, and objectives.

Identifying Priority Places, Step by Step

  • Why Set Priorities?

    Practitioners must make difficult choices in order to "get the most bang for the buck." Is it better to buy a series of small, high-quality, but very expensive parcels or one big parcel of lower quality that can be purchased and managed more cost-effectively?

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  • Goals

    Planners must clearly articulate and integrate conservation goals to guide projects toward successful implementation. These goals guide what data need to be collected and also determine the relative costs and benefits of protecting any sites.

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  • Not All Places Are Equal

    Whether your organization has an interest in protecting biodiversity or other recreational, historic, scenic, or cultural values, you must first consider where to concentrate conservation activities. This decision is made easier by the fact that high-priority features and resources are not found everywhere.

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  • A Brief History of Conservation Planning

    The history of open-space planning in North America extends back to the early 20th century. Learn more about where it's come from to see where we are now.

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  • What Do We Want To Protect? What Should We Protect?

    Whether your organization has an interest in protecting biodiversity or other recreational, historic, scenic, or cultural values, you must first consider where to concentrate conservation activities. This decision is made easier by the fact that high-priority features and resources are not found everywhere.

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  • How To Prioritize Sites - A Toolkit

    Practitioners can follow this step-by-step summary outlining the essential components of conservation prioritization.

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