• Non-ICIMOD publication

Evaluating tradeoffs between economic value and wildlife habitat suitability in buffer zones for protected areas in the northern Rocky Mountains, USA

  • Prato, T.

Future economic growth and land development have the potential to produce tradeoffs in which economic values increase at the expense of environmental values. Although such tradeoffs have not been empirically verified in mountain ecosystems, they are likely to exist for an ecosystem containing abundant natural resources and environmental amenities that is undergoing rapid economic and population growth. Quantifying future tradeoffs between economic and environmental values is important because it provides information for natural resource managers and community planners that is useful in alleviating the adverse impacts of future growth and development on wildlife. Such tradeoffs are quantified for Flathead County, Montana, located in the Northern Rocky Mountains of the United States, using the Ecosystem Landscape Modeling System (ELMS). In particular, the ELMS is used for the following: (1) to simulate the extent of the tradeoffs between economic values (ie total output of goods and services) and wildlife habitat suitability (ie extent of habitat disturbance and the degree of loss in habitat security) in buffer zones for five protected areas in Flathead County between 2005 and 2024; and (2) to determine whether implementing a more restrictive land use policy than existed in 2005 would reduce future adverse impacts of growth and development on wildlife habitat. Simulation results indicate that future growth in Flathead County increases total output of goods and services, and the resulting land development reduces the suitability of wildlife habitat in the buffer zones. Degradation in habitat suitability can be alleviated by implementing a more restrictive land use policy. The methods used in the study provide a coarse assessment of the tradeoffs between economic values and wildlife habitat suitability in buffer zones for mountain protected areas.

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  • Journal:
    Mountain Research and Development, Vol 29, No 1, Feb 2009: 46?58: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1659/mrd.992
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