Conservation planning on a budget: A "resource light" method for mapping priorities at a landscape scale?

Karl A. Didier, David Wilkie, Iain Douglas-Hamilton, Laurence Frank, Nicholas Georgiadis, Max Graham, Festus Ihwagi, Anthony King, Alayne Cotterill, Daniel Ian Rubenstein, Rosie Woodroffe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Conservation projects may be reluctant to attempt Systematic Conservation Planning because existing methods are often prohibitive in the time, money, data, and expertise they require. We tried to develop a "resource light" method for Systematic Conservation Planning and applied it to the Ewaso Ngiro Landscape of central Kenya. Over a 6-month preparation period and 1-week participatory workshop, we used expert assessments to select focal biodiversity features, set quantitative targets for these, map their current distribution, vulnerability, potential for recovery, and conservation costs, and, finally, map cross-feature conservation priorities. Preparation for and facilitation of the workshop required time investment by one part-time workshop coordinator, eight workshop committee members, six ecosystem experts, and two GIS technicians. Total time investment was approximately 56.5 person-weeks spread over facilitators and 40 workshop participants. Monetary costs for the workshop were approximately $US 42,000, excluding investments made by researchers previous to this project. Costs for a similar workshop could vary substantially, depending on need to cover salaries, international travel, food and lodging, and the number of participants. To stay within our resource constraints, we completed the exercise for only four of nine focal biodiversity features and did not negotiate trade-offs between conservation and human land-uses or use planning software to identify "optimal networks" of conservation areas. These were not considered critical for conservationists to try Systematic Conservation Planning, introduce landscape-scale conservation concepts to stakeholders, and begin implementing landscape conservation strategies. Participants agreed that further work would be needed to complete and update the planning process. Due to the lack of comparative cost data from similar planning exercises, we cannot definitively conclude that our approach was "resource light", although we suspect it is within the constraints of most site-based conservation projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1979-2000
Number of pages22
JournalBiodiversity and Conservation
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


  • Cost:benefit
  • Expert opinion
  • Kenya
  • Laikipia
  • Participatory workshop
  • Samburu
  • Systematic conservation planning
  • Vulnerability


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