Simulating the value of collaboration in multi-actor conservation planning

A. Gordon, William T. Langford, Lucy Bastin, A.M. Lechner, Sarah A. Bekessy

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


The loss of habitat and biodiversity worldwide has led to considerable resources being spent for conservation purposes on actions such as the acquisition and management of land, the rehabilitation of degraded habitats, and the purchase of easements from private landowners. 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 use a modelling framework to explore this issue with a study involving two agents sequentially purchasing land for conservation. We apply our model to simulated data using distributions taken from real data to simulate the cost of patches and the rarity and co-occurence of species.
In our model each agent attempted to implement a conservation network that met its target for the minimum cost using the conservation planning software Marxan. We examine three scenarios where the conservation targets of the agents differ. The first scenario (called NGO-NGO) models the situation where two NGOs are both are targeting different sets of threatened species. The second and third scenarios (called NGO-Gov and Gov-NGO, respectively) represent a case where a government agency attempts to implement a complementary conservation network representing all species, while an NGO is focused on achieving additional protection for the most endangered species.
For each of these scenarios we examined three types of interactions between agents: i) acting in isolation where the agents are attempting to achieve their targets solely though their own actions ii) sharing information where each agent is aware of the species representation achieved within the other agent’s conservation network and, iii) pooling resources where agents combine their resources and undertake conservation actions as a single entity. The latter two interactions represent different types of collaborations and in each scenario we determine the cost savings from sharing information or pooling resources. In each case we examined the utility of these interactions from the viewpoint of the combined conservation network resulting from both agents' actions, as well as from each agent’s individual perspective.
The costs for each agent to achieve their objectives varied depending on the order in which the agents acted, the type of interaction between agents, and the specific goals of each agent. There were significant cost savings from increased collaboration via sharing information in the NGO-NGO scenario were the agent’s representation goals were mutually exclusive (in terms of specie targeted). In the NGO-Gov and Gov-NGO scenarios, collaboration generated much smaller savings. If the two agents collaborate by pooling resources there are multiple ways the total cost could be shared between both agents. For each scenario we investigate the costs and benefits for all possible cost sharing proportions. We find that there are a range of cost sharing proportions where both agents can benefit in the NGO-NGO scenarios while the NGO-Gov and Gov-NGO scenarios again showed little benefit.
Although the model presented here has a range of simplifying assumptions, it demonstrates that 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. The model demonstrates a method for determining the range of collaboration costs that would result in collaboration providing an efficient use of scarce conservation resources.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventMODSIM 2011:19th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation - Perth, Australia
Duration: 12 Dec 201116 Dec 2011


ConferenceMODSIM 2011:19th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation
Abbreviated titleMODSIM 2011

Bibliographical note

Published in: MODSIM2011, 19th International Congress on Modelling and Simulation. Modelling and Simulation Society of Australia and New Zealand, December 2011. F. Chan, D. Marinova, R.S. Anderssen (eds). ISBN 978-0-9872143-1-7.


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