A MULTICRITERIA ANALYSIS OF THE CONSERVATION PLANNING TOOL OF THE NORTH CAROLINA NATURAL HERITAGE PROGRAM

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2012-04-26

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Abstract

Land conservation and land use planning are the essential approaches in mitigating human disturbances and maintaining ecological functions. These approaches require identification and prioritization of different land characteristics to efficiently conserve the areas that represent significant biodiversity values. In North Carolina, the Conservation Planning Tool (CPT) was developed by the North Carolina National Heritage Program (NCNHP) to achieve this goal. However, the weighting method in CPT falls short in that it does not assign greater credit to areas with multiple values, and it ignores the biophysical characteristics that may contribute to the values of biodiversity.

In order to critique the issues in CPT, I developed a rating tool based on Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT) analysis and incorporated biophysical measurements into the new habitat prioritization. I consulted Allison Weakley, the Conservation Planner of the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, to assess the levels of preference and weights for each measurement, and used these results to calculate the final score. Because the methods of utility and weight assessment in the two systems are considerably different, I used qualitative criteria to compare the advantages and disadvantages of the two rating systems. The results show that the new rating tool is able to address the weighting problem in CPT, is less redundant in the selection of measurements, and offers more comprehensive data completeness. On the other hand, CPT is friendlier for tool users who may not be familiar with the technical details, more flexible in accommodating new measurements, and more comprehensive in evaluating both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.

Land conservation and land use planning are the essential approaches in mitigating human disturbances and maintaining ecological functions. These approaches require identification and prioritization of different land characteristics to efficiently conserve the areas that represent significant biodiversity values. In North Carolina, the Conservation Planning Tool (CPT) was developed by the North Carolina National Heritage Program (NCNHP) to achieve this goal. However, the weighting method in CPT falls short in that it does not assign greater credit to areas with multiple values, and it ignores the biophysical characteristics that may contribute to the values of biodiversity. In order to critique the issues in CPT, I developed a rating tool based on Multi-Attribute Utility Theory (MAUT) analysis and incorporated biophysical measurements into the new habitat prioritization. I consulted Allison Weakley, the Conservation Planner of the North Carolina Natural Heritage Program, to assess the levels of preference and weights for each measurement, and used these results to calculate the final score. Because the methods of utility and weight assessment in the two systems are considerably different, I used qualitative criteria to compare the advantages and disadvantages of the two rating systems. The results show that the new rating tool is able to address the weighting problem in CPT, is less redundant in the selection of measurements, and offers more comprehensive data completeness. On the other hand, CPT is friendlier for tool users who may not be familiar with the technical details, more flexible in accommodating new measurements, and more comprehensive in evaluating both aquatic and terrestrial habitats.

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Yeh, Sung-Kang (2012). A MULTICRITERIA ANALYSIS OF THE CONSERVATION PLANNING TOOL OF THE NORTH CAROLINA NATURAL HERITAGE PROGRAM. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/5266.


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