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Planning for Conservation Priorities Across Community Values

An Evaluation of the Conservation Priority Setting Methodology as Developed by Perlman and Western Lands and Communities

Nicole Schneidman

February 2014, English

In 2005, Dan Perlman, Associate Professor of Biology at Brandeis University, began piloting a values-driven approach to conservation priority setting and planning in partnership with Western Lands and Communities, a joint venture of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Sonoran Institute. As a conservation biologist, Perlman recognized a need for planning that accounted for data limitations and allowed practitioners to compare and prioritize across distinct conservation values.

Between 2006 and 2009, Perlman and his colleagues at the Sonoran Institute piloted the Conservation Priority Setting Methodology (CPSM) with three Western open space preservation organizations: the Prickly Pear Land Trust in Helena, Montana; the Montezuma Land Conservancy in Cortez, Colorado; and the Morongo Basin Open Space Group in Twentynine Palms, California. This working paper summarizes that conservation priority setting approach and evaluates its success in light of these three pilot applications. In addition, a review of the current field of conservation planning is provided along with suggestions regarding CPSM’s place within this larger field and its potential for future implementation.