Scheduling conservation action is necessary when the available resources for conservation are insufficient to adequately protect all of the natural features (e.g. species, vegetation types, ecosystems) in a region, at least in the short-term. We propose an approach to scheduling conservation action in production landscapes. It is based on two characteristics of potential conservation areas. The first is vulnerability — the likelihood or imminence of destruction or alteration of native vegetation. The second is irreplaceability — the likelihood that an area will be needed to contribute to a set of conservation targets nominated for the region's features. We argue that highest priority for conservation action should go to those areas with both high vulnerability (urgent protection needed to avoid destruction) and high irreplaceability (few or no alternatives if destroyed). To establish the context and rationale for our approach, we review some previous methods for scheduling nature conservation. We then apply our approach to the Western Division of New South Wales, a region of about 325,000 km2, by deriving information on the vulnerability of 248 land systems to two threatening processes (clearing and cropping) and measuring the irreplaceability of potential conservation areas. Our results are maps of areas where conservation action is most urgently needed if regional conservation targets are not to be compromised.
Original publication available at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(01)00039-8