Incorporating connectivity into conservation planning for optimal representation of multiple species and ecosystem services

Sara H Williams, Sarah A Scriven, David F R P Burslem, Jane K Hill, Glen Reynolds, Agnes L Agama, Frederick Kugan, Colin R Maycock, Eyen Khoo, Alexander Y L Hastie, John B Sugau, Reuben Nilus, Joan T Pereira, Sandy L T Tsen, Leung Y Lee, Suzika Juiling, Jenny A Hodgson, Lydia E S Cole, Gregory P Asner, Luke J EvansJedediah F Brodie*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Current conservation planning tends to focus on protecting species ranges or landscape connectivity but seldom both - particularly in the case of diverse taxonomic assemblages and multiple planning goals. Therefore we lack information on potential tradeoffs between maintaining landscape connectivity and achieving other conservation objectives. Here we develop a prioritization approach to protect species ranges, different ecosystem types, and forest carbon stocks, while also incorporating dispersal corridors to link existing protected areas and habitat connectivity for protection of range-shifting species. We apply our framework to Sabah, Malaysia, where the State Government has mandated an increase in protected area coverage of ∼305,000 ha but without having specified where the new protected areas will be. Compared to conservation planning that does not explicitly account for connectivity, our approach increased the protection of dispersal corridors and elevational connectivity by 13% and 21%, respectively, while decreasing the coverage of other conservation features by 0% (vertebrate and plant species ranges; forest types), 2% (forest carbon), and 3% (butterfly species ranges). Hence, large increases in the protection of landscape connectivity can be achieved with minimal loss of representation of other conservation targets. Article impact statement: New protected area design in Sabah, Borneo, reveals that connectivity can used in planning without compromising other conservation goals. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
JournalConservation Biology
Early online date15 Dec 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Dec 2019



  • Borneo
  • Climate change
  • Connectivity
  • Corridors
  • Deforestation
  • Habitat loss
  • Rainforest
  • Systematic conservation planning

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