ConsNet: new software for the selection of conservation area networks with spatial and multi-criteria analyses


  • Michael Ciarleglio,

  • J. Wesley Barnes,

  • Sahotra Sarkar

M. Ciarleglio, Inst. of Computational Engineering and Sciences, Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA. – S. Sarkar (, Biodiversity and Biocultural Conservation Laboratory, Section of Integrative Biology, Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA. – J. W. Barnes, Graduate Program in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering, Univ. of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


ConsNet is a comprehensive software package for the design of conservation area networks (CANs). The software selects areas to be potentially placed under conservation management for the representation of biodiversity surrogates. Additionally, ConsNet optimizes spatial criteria including compactness, connectivity, replication, and alignment, as well as socio-economic criteria as specified by users. ConsNet uses an advanced tabu search engine to identify efficient alternatives quickly, offering capabilities beyond existing planning software. The ability to perform ongoing interactive analysis with multi-criteria objectives makes ConsNet an ideal decision support tool for large scale planning exercises.