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A social-ecological approach to land-use conflict to inform regional and conservation planning and management

Karimi, Azadeh, Hockings, Marc
Landscape ecology 2018 v.33 no.5 pp. 691-710
case studies, coasts, computer software, ecosystems, indigenous species, land use planning, landscapes, models, species diversity, stakeholders, vegetation cover, Australia
CONTEXT: Conflict over land use is endemic to natural resource management given the limited availability of resources and multiple stakeholders’ interests, but there has been limited research to examine conflict from an integrative social-ecological perspective. OBJECTIVES: We sought to determine how the potential for land use conflict—a social construct—was related (or not) to ecological systems of landscapes. METHODS: Using participatory mapping data from a regional case study in Australia, we identified the potential for land use conflict using a model that combines spatially-explicit place values with preferences for specific land uses related to development and conservation. Multiple proxies of biodiversity were used to evaluate the landscape’s ecological systems at ecosystems and species levels. Range maps were used to identify areas of high species diversity value using the conservation planning software Zonation. RESULTS: We spatially intersected conflict areas with landscape attributes and found the potential for conflict over conservation to be higher in coastal areas than inland areas, more likely to be located in areas with moderate vegetation cover, more concentrated in ecosystems classified as ‘No Concern’ with moderate to high native vegetation. Potential conflict over conservation was disproportionately higher in areas with higher species diversity derived from conservation modelling. CONCLUSIONS: The social-ecological associations in conflict analysis can inform impact assessment of land use plans on biodiversity, assist development of effective approaches to reconcile conservation and other land uses, support conservation planning by identifying priorities for conflict negotiation and understanding underlying factors for conflict.