Integrated cross-realm planning: a decision-makers' perspective

Jorge G. Álvarez-Romero*, Vanessa M. Adams, Robert L. Pressey, Michael Douglas, Allan P. Dale, Amélie A. Augé, Derek Ball, John Childs, Michael Digby, Rebecca Dobbs, Niilo Gobius, David Hinchley, Ian Lancaster, Mirjam Maughan, Ian Perdrisat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Pursuing development and conservation goals often requires thinking and planning across terrestrial, freshwater and marine realms because many threats and social-ecological processes transcend realm boundaries. Consequently, effective conservation planningmust consider the social and ecological links between realms and follow a cross-realm approach to allocate land/water uses and conservation actions to mitigate cross-realmthreats and maintain cross-realm ecological processes. Cross-realm planning requires integrating multiple objectives for conservation and development, and assessing the potential co-benefits and trade-offs between themunder alternative development scenarios. Despite progress in cross-realmplanning theory, fewfully-integrated and applied cross-realmplans exist. The gaps between research and implementation are not unique to cross-realm planning, but are accentuated by the complexity of spatial decision-making entailed. Based on a collaborative process including scientists, resource managers and policy-makers, we developed an operational framework for crossrealm planning based on up-to-date thinking in conservation science, but offering practical guidance to operationalise real-world planning. Our approach has a strong theoretical basis while addressing the visions and needs of decision-makers. We discuss the foundations and limitations of current approaches in crossrealm planning, describe key requirements to undertake this approach, and present a real-world application of our framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)799-808
Number of pages10
JournalBiological Conservation
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • integrated cross-realm planning
  • integrated land-sea conservation planning
  • cross-system threat
  • cross-system ecological process
  • multi-objective planning
  • Marxan


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