Optimization in the utility maximization framework for conservation planning: a comparison of solution procedures in a study of multifunctional agriculture

PeerJ
By: , and 

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Abstract

Quantitative methods of spatial conservation prioritization have traditionally been applied to issues in conservation biology and reserve design, though their use in other types of natural resource management is growing. The utility maximization problem is one form of a covering problem where multiple criteria can represent the expected social benefits of conservation action. This approach allows flexibility with a problem formulation that is more general than typical reserve design problems, though the solution methods are very similar. However, few studies have addressed optimization in utility maximization problems for conservation planning, and the effect of solution procedure is largely unquantified. Therefore, this study mapped five criteria describing elements of multifunctional agriculture to determine a hypothetical conservation resource allocation plan for agricultural land conservation in the Central Valley of CA, USA. We compared solution procedures within the utility maximization framework to determine the difference between an open source integer programming approach and a greedy heuristic, and find gains from optimization of up to 12%. We also model land availability for conservation action as a stochastic process and determine the decline in total utility compared to the globally optimal set using both solution algorithms. Our results are comparable to other studies illustrating the benefits of optimization for different conservation planning problems, and highlight the importance of maximizing the effectiveness of limited funding for conservation and natural resource management.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Optimization in the utility maximization framework for conservation planning: a comparison of solution procedures in a study of multifunctional agriculture
Series title PeerJ
DOI 10.7717/peerj.690
Volume 2
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher PeerJ Inc.
Publisher location Corte Madera, CA
Contributing office(s) Western Geographic Science Center
Description 19 p.; e690
Country United States
State California
Other Geospatial Central Valley
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N