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Keywords:

  • conservation land assessment;
  • ecological processes;
  • habitat quality;
  • metabolic theory of ecology;
  • private conservation

Summary  A framework is presented for terrestrial conservation assessment that has been developed for Bush Heritage, an Australian non-profit organisation that manages land of outstanding conservation value through acquisition or working in partnership with other landowners. The framework is called Biodiversity Prediction using Ecological Processes and comprises seven conservation goals, with a set of candidate criteria and indicators for each goal. Particular emphasis is given to criteria that relate to habitat quality in addition to the more conventional focus on land quantity. The MCAS-S graphic user interface is used to help analyse the indicators and visualise the results in a transparent way that assists the decision-making process. The interface also allows indicators to be weighted differently, which among other things, allows analyses to reflect inter-regional differences in what represents high quality land. The framework was tested in a case study region (the Woodland region of south-eastern Australia), and the results reveal land that is potentially a priority for conservation investments. While the framework and case study results are indicative, and further analyses are required before they can be considered operational, the approach has potential application to other organisations in the private conservation sector.