GRA prospectus: optimizing design and management of protected areas

Open-File Report 2001-404




Protected areas comprise one major type of global conservation effort that has been in the form of parks, easements, or conservation concessions. Though protected areas are increasing in number and size throughout tropical ecosystems, there is no systematic method for optimally targeting specific local areas for protection, designing the protected area, and monitoring it, or for guiding follow-up actions to manage it or its surroundings over the long run. Without such a system, conservation projects often cost more than necessary and/or risk protecting ecosystems and biodiversity less efficiently than desired. Correcting these failures requires tools and strategies for improving the placement, design, and long-term management of protected areas. The objective of this project is to develop a set of spatially based analytical tools to improve the selection, design, and management of protected areas. In this project, several conservation concessions will be compared using an economic optimization technique. The forest land use portfolio model is an integrated assessment that measures investment in different land uses in a forest. The case studies of individual tropical ecosystems are developed as forest (land) use and preservation portfolios in a geographic information system (GIS). Conservation concessions involve a private organization purchasing development and resource access rights in a certain area and retiring them. Forests are put into conservation, and those people who would otherwise have benefited from extracting resources or selling the right to do so are compensated. Concessions are legal agreements wherein the exact amount and nature of the compensation result from a negotiated agreement between an agent of the conservation community and the local community. Funds are placed in a trust fund, and annual payments are made to local communities and regional/national governments. The payments are made pending third-party verification that the forest expanse and quality have been maintained.

Additional publication details

Publication type:
Publication Subtype:
USGS Numbered Series
GRA prospectus: optimizing design and management of protected areas
Series title:
Open-File Report
Series number:
Year Published:
15 p.