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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evaluating Marxan as a terrestrial conservation planning tool Munro, Krista Grace


A variety of reserve design software programs are available to assist in the selection and spatial configuration of new protected areas. One such application, Marxan, produces spatially cohesive reserve configurations which meet representation targets efficiently. Conservation agencies worldwide are adopting Marxan as a conservation planning tool, however it is not currently used by Parks Canada when conducting feasibility studies for potential national park reserves. This thesis evaluates whether Marxan could be a useful decision-support tool for Parks Canada to use when selecting and designing potential park areas. The assessment is based on four usability criteria and three park selection criteria, developed in consultation with Parks Canada. Concurrent with this thesis, Parks Canada is conducting a feasibility study for a national park reserve in the South Okanagan-Lower Similkameen region of British Columbia, Canada. This region serves as a case study for the thesis. Marxan was used to create 36 unique reserve configuration options for the case study area and to help evaluate the performance of each reserve. Overall, Marxan fully satisfied three criteria, partially satisfied three, and failed to meet one. This study demonstrates that Marxan provides a useful means to design and explore a range of representative and scientifically defensible reserves. However, to use it effectively requires technical and ecological expertise, a comprehensive GIS infrastructure, good data and time. This analysis concludes that Marxan would be a very appropriate tool to assist Parks Canada in selecting and designing potential national park reserves. Marxan would be best used in conjunction with other decision-support tools, expert knowledge and public consultation.

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