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Prioritizing actions: spatial action maps for conservation

Heather Tallis, Joe Fargione, Edward Game, Rob McDonald, Leandro Baumgarten, Nirmal Bhagabati, Rane Cortez, Bronson Griscom, Jonathan Higgins, Christina M. Kennedy, Joe Kiesecker, Timm Kroeger, Trina Leberer, Jennifer McGowan, Lisa Mandle, Yuta J. Masuda, Scott A. Morrison, Sally Palmer, Rebecca Shirer, Priya Shyamsundar, Nicholas H. Wolff, Hugh P. Possingham

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences

June 28, 2021

Spatial prioritization is a critical step in conservation planning, a process designed to ensure that limited resources are applied in ways that deliver the highest possible returns for biodiversity and human wellbeing. In practice, many spatial prioritizations fall short of their potential by focusing on places rather than actions, and by using data of snapshots of assets or threats rather than estimated impacts. We introduce spatial action mapping as an approach that overcomes these shortfalls. This approach produces a spatially explicit view of where and how much a given conservation action is likely to contribute to achieving stated conservation goals. Through seven case examples, we demonstrate simple to complex versions of how this method can be applied across local to global scales to inform decisions about a wide range of conservation actions and benefits. Spatial action mapping can support major improvements in efficient use of conservation resources and will reach its full potential as the quality of environmental, social, and economic datasets converge and conservation impact evaluations improve.

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Tallis, H., Fargione, J., Game, E., McDonald, R., Baumgarten, L., Bhagabati, N., … Possingham, H. P. (2021). Prioritizing actions: spatial action maps for conservation. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. doi:10.1111/nyas.14651