Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
John Wiley and Sons Ltd
1- The Alaskan Matanuska-Susitna Basin (MSB) provides habitat for all five Pacific salmon species, and their large seasonal spawning runs are important both ecologically and economically. However, the encroachment of human development through urbanization and extractive industries poses a serious risk to salmon habitat in the MSB.
2- Using systematic conservation planning techniques, different methods of incorporating anthropogenic risks were assessed to determine how to cost-effectively conserve salmon habitat in the area.
3- The consequences of four distinct conservation scenarios were quantified: no consideration of either urbanization or extractive industries (‘Risk ignored’ scenario); accounting for the risk of urbanization, and avoiding conservation in all fossil fuel rich areas (‘Urbanization accounted, all extraction avoided’ scenario); accounting for urbanization and oil and gas development, but avoiding conservation in coal rich areas (‘Urbanization accounted, coal areas avoided’ scenario); and accounting for all anthropogenic risks to habitat, and allowing conservation in oil, gas, or coal rich areas (‘All risks accounted’ scenario). To compare conservation success and resiliency, the impact of these risks were estimated using Monte Carlo simulations. The final cost of each solution was then divided by the number of conservation targets met to determine a return on investment.
4- Results from scenarios that avoided all extractive activities, or just coal, suggest that conservation targets cannot be met by simply avoiding fossil fuel rich areas, and these scenarios resulted in lower returns on investment than when risks from extraction were incorporated into the solution.
5- By providing economically rooted conservation prioritization, this study provides a method for local managers and conservation groups to identify conservation opportunities in MSB river basins.
Witt A, Hammill E. Using systematic conservation planning to establish management priorities for freshwater salmon conservation, Matanuska‐Susitna Basin, AK, USA. Aquatic Conserv: Mar Freshw Ecosyst. 2018;28:994–1003. https://doi.org/10.1002/aqc.2933