Incorporating multiple criteria into the design of conservation area networks: a minireview with recommendations


*Correspondence: Sahotra Sarkar, Biodiversity and Biocultural Conservation Laboratory, Section of Integrative Biology, and Department of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin, 1 University Station, C3500, Austin, Texas, 78712-1180, USA. Tel: 1 (512) 232 7122; Fax: 1 (512) 471 4806; E-mail:


We provide a review of multicriteria decision-making (MCDM) methods that may potentially be used during systematic conservation planning for the design of conservation area networks (CANs). We review 26 methods and present the core ideas of 19 of them. We suggest that the computation of the non-dominated set (NDS) be the first stage of any such analysis. This process requires only that alternatives be qualitatively ordered by each criterion. If the criteria can also be similarly ordered, at the next stage, Regime is the most appropriate method to refine the NDS. If the alternatives can also be given quantitative values by the criteria, Goal Programming will prove useful in many contexts. If both the alternatives and the criteria can be quantitatively evaluated, and the criteria are independent of each other but may be compounded, then multi-attribute value theory (MAVT) should be used (with preferences conveniently elicited by a modified Analytic Hierarchy Process (mAHP) provided that the number of criteria is not large).