Catchment zoning for freshwater conservation: refining plans to enhance action on the ground

Hermoso, Vergilio, Cattarino, Lorenzo, Kennard, Mark J., Watts, Mathew and Linke, Simon (2015) Catchment zoning for freshwater conservation: refining plans to enhance action on the ground. Journal of Applied Ecology, 52 4: 940-949. doi:10.1111/1365-2664.12454

Author Hermoso, Vergilio
Cattarino, Lorenzo
Kennard, Mark J.
Watts, Mathew
Linke, Simon
Title Catchment zoning for freshwater conservation: refining plans to enhance action on the ground
Journal name Journal of Applied Ecology   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1365-2664
Publication date 2015
Year available 2015
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/1365-2664.12454
Volume 52
Issue 4
Start page 940
End page 949
Total pages 10
Place of publication Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Collection year 2016
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Recent advances in freshwater conservation planning allow addressing some of the specific needs of these systems. These include spatial connectivity or propagation of threats along stream networks, essential to ensure the maintenance of ecosystem processes and the biodiversity they sustain. However, these peculiarities make conservation recommendations difficult to implement as they often require considering large areas that cannot be managed under conventional conservation schemes (e.g. strict protection).

To facilitate the implementation of conservation in freshwater systems, a multizoning approach with different management zones subject to different management regimes was proposed. So far, this approach has only been used in post hoc exercises where zones were allocated using expert criteria. This might undermine the cost-effectiveness of conservation recommendations, because both the allocation and extent of these zones have never been optimized using the principles of systematic planning.

Here, we demonstrate how to create a catchment multizone plan by using a commonly applied tool in marine and terrestrial realms. We first test the capability of Marxan with Zones to address problems in rivers by using a simulated example and then apply the findings to a real case in the Daly River catchment, northern Australia. We also demonstrate how to address common conservation planning issues, such as accounting for threats or species-specific connectivity needs in this multizone framework, and evaluate their effects on the spatial distribution and extent of different zones.

We found that by prioritizing the allocation of zones subject to different management regimes, we could minimize the total area in need of strict conservation by a twofold factor. This reduction can be further reduced (threefold) when considering species’ connectivity needs. The integration of threats helped reduce the average threats of areas selected by a twofold factor.

Synthesis and applications. Catchment zoning can help refine conservation recommendations and enhance cost-effectiveness by prescribing different management regimes informed by ecological needs or distribution of threats. Reliable information on these factors is a key to ensure soundness of planning. Freely available software can be used to implement the approach we demonstrate here.
Keyword Catchment management zone
Conservation planning
Critical management zones
Freshwater focal areas
Marxan with Zones
Systematic planning
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ
Additional Notes Early View

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2016 Collection
School of Biological Sciences Publications
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