Simulating the value of collaboration in multi-actor conservation planning

Ascelin Gordon*, Lucy Bastin, William Langford, Alex M. Lechner, Sarah A. Bekessy

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The loss of habitat and biodiversity worldwide has led to considerable resources being spent on conservation interventions. Prioritising these actions is challenging due to the complexity of the problem and because there can be multiple actors undertaking conservation actions, often with divergent or partially overlapping objectives. We explore this issue with a simulation study involving two agents sequentially purchasing land for the conservation of multiple species using three scenarios comprising either divergent or partially overlapping objectives between the agents. The first scenario investigates the situation where both agents are targeting different sets of threatened species. The second and third scenarios represent a case where a government agency attempts to implement a complementary conservation network representing 200 species, while a non-government organisation is focused on achieving additional protection for the ten rarest species.

Simulated input data was generated using distributions taken from real data to model the cost of parcels, and the rarity and co-occurrence of species. We investigated three types of collaborative interactions between agents: acting in isolation, sharing information and pooling resources with the third option resulting in the agents combining their resources and effectively acting as a single entity. In each scenario we determine the cost savings when an agent moves from acting in isolation to either sharing information or pooling resources with the other agent. The model demonstrates how the value of collaboration can vary significantly in different situations. In most cases, collaborating would have associated costs and these costs need to be weighed against the potential benefits from collaboration. Our model demonstrates a method for determining the range of costs that would result in collaboration providing an efficient use of scarce conservation resources.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19–25
Number of pages7
JournalEcological Modelling
Early online date30 Jul 2012
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Ecological Modelling. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Gordon A, Bastin L, Langford W, Lechner AM, Bekessy SA. Simulating the value of collaboration in multi-actor conservation planning. Ecological Modelling. Vol. 249 (2013) DOI

Funding: This research was funded by the Australian Research Council through the Centre of Excellence for Environmental Decisions and Linkage Project LP0882780.


  • systematic conservationplanning
  • reserve design
  • marxan
  • multi-actor
  • conservation investment
  • game theory


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