Systematic conservation planning (SCP) has increasingly been used to prioritize conservation actions, including the design of new protected areas to achieve conservation objectives. Over the last 10 years, the number of marine SCP studies has increased exponentially, yet there is no structured or reliable way to find information on methods, trends, and progress.
The Conservation Planning Database project aims to create a global database to help track the development, implementation, and impact of systematic conservation planning (SCP) applications, and improve scholarship in the field. Consolidating a global database can play a critical role in advancing SCP theory and practice, thus facilitating more effective area-based conservation initiatives with real benefits for biodiversity and human well-being.
The marine proof-of-concept database includes marine conservation planning exercises following a SCP approach to guide the spatial allocation of limited resources to achieve explicit conservation objectives, and more recently, social and economic objectives. A key component of SCP is spatial prioritization, which involves locating and configuring conservation areas, generally aiming for cost-efficient designs.
The marine proof-of-concept database includes planning exercises that met the following four criteria:
1. Define explicit conservation objectives, but can include social and economic objectives;
2. Identify spatially explicit conservation areas (i.e. places where some form of spatially explicit management – from strict reservation to off-reserve management – is undertaken to contribute to defined objectives), sometimes associated with actions;
3. Identify marine conservation areas (including coastal ecosystems) and/or terrestrial or freshwater conservation areas that can have downstream benefits on marine ecosystems (i.e. explicit marine conservation objectives). For example, protect forest areas against erosion to maintain water quality in marine areas; thus, configuration of terrestrial conservation areas reflect marine considerations; and
4. Prioritized spatially using some form of optimization that accounted for complementarity between priority conservation areas and/or actions. This means that plans will necessarily use existing (e.g. C-Plan, Marxan, Zonation) or custom-made (e.g. linear programming, genetic algorithms) DSS.
The marine SCP prototype currently contains 114 database fields and includes information on goals and objectives, geographic scope and location, targeted features, methods and decision-support tools, planning units, threats to features, stakeholder participation, planning outputs, and approaches to incorporating ecological connectivity, climate change, and socioeconomic considerations.
The marine proof-of-concept database is the most comprehensive and systematic compilation of marine SCP studies to date, thus providing a unique opportunity for scientists to access and analyse further aspects of marine planning. It provides a full and consistent coverage of the primary literature on marine SCP (155 case studies), and constitutes an important step towards the development of a centralized repository of key information on planning exercises worldwide.
The background, structure and applications are described in the following paper, which should be cited if any of the information of the database is used in any form:
Álvarez-Romero, J. G., M. Mills, V. M. Adams, G. G. Gurney, R. L. Pressey, R. Weeks, N. C. Ban, J. Cheok, T. E. Davies, J. C. Day, M. A. Hamel, H. M. Leslie, R. A. Magris, C. J. Storlie. 2018. Research advances and gaps in marine planning: towards a global database in systematic conservation planning. Biological Conservation: in press
This dataset consists of three files: (1) MS Excel file with a detailed description of the fields (including type, content, description and catalogues used to populate single- or multiple-choice fields in the Global Marine Conservation Planning Database; (2) survey-like file showing the fields currently contained in the marine proof-of-concept database (PDF format); and (3) Open Document Format (.ods) versions of the tables (catalogues) used to populate single- or multiple-choice fields in the database.
The data should be accessed via the URL of the Global Marine Conservation Planning Database (http://database.conservationplanning.org/); a copy of the dataset is stored at James Cook University's HPC storage facility, which can be accessed using normal HPC methods (https://secure.jcu.edu.au/confluence/display/Public/HPRC+Storage), in the following location: as1.hpc.jcu.edu.au\jc236199\Datasets\Marine_SCP_Global_Database. Please contact the data manager (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you require access to the full database or a subset of it.
Please cite both the data: (a) Alvarez-Romero, J. (2018). Global conservation planning database: marine proof-of-concept. James Cook University. [Data Files] http://dx.doi.org/10.4225/28/5b189660a6746; and paper (b) Álvarez-Romero, J. G., M. Mills, V. M. Adams, G. G. Gurney, R. L. Pressey, R. Weeks, N. C. Ban, J. Cheok, T. E. Davies, J. C. Day, M. A. Hamel, H. M. Leslie, R. A. Magris, C. J. Storlie. 2018. Research advances and gaps in marine planning: towards a global database in systematic conservation planning. Biological Conservation: in press.