Evaluating the efficacy of zoning designations for protected area management



Vanessa Hull, Weihua Xu, Wei Liu, Shiqiang Zhou, Andrés Viña, Jindong Zhang, Mao-Ning Tuanmu, Jinyan Huang, Marc LindermanXiaodong Chen, Yan Huang, Zhiyun Ouyang, Hemin Zhang, Jianguo Liu

Journal or Book Title: Biological Conservation

Keywords: Giant panda; Protected area; Zoning; Conservation; Development

Year Published: 2011



Protected areas worldwide are facing increasing pressures to co-manage human development and biodiversity conservation. One strategy for managing multiple uses within and around protected areas is zoning, an approach in which spatial boundaries are drawn to distinguish areas with varying degrees of
allowable human impacts. However, zoning designations are rarely evaluated for their efficacy using
empirical data related to both human and biodiversity characteristics. To evaluate the effectiveness of
zoning designations, we developed an integrated approach. The approach was calibrated empirically
using data from Wolong Nature Reserve, a flagship protected area for the conservation of endangered
giant pandas in China. We analyzed the spatial distribution of pandas, as well as human impacts (roads,
houses, tourism infrastructure, livestock, and forest cover change) with respect to zoning designations in
Wolong. Results show that the design of the zoning scheme could be improved to account for pandas and
their habitat, considering the amount of suitable habitat outside of the core zone (area designated for biodiversity conservation). Zoning was largely successful in containing houses and roads to their designated
experimental zone, but was less effective in containing livestock and was susceptible to boundary adjustments to allow for tourism development. We identified focus areas for potential zoning revision that
could better protect the panda population without significantly compromising existing human settlements. Our findings highlight the need for evaluating the efficacy of zoning in other protected areas facing similar challenges with balancing human needs and conservation goals, not only in China but also
around the world

DOI: 10.1016/j.biocon.2011.09.007

Type of Publication: Journal Article