Ian Curtis

The Wild Harts Study Area (WHSA) supports a wide range of ecological diversity and connects a network of protected areas spanning the length of the Rocky Mountain Cordillera. The WHSA occurs within a region of northeastern British Columbia that is poorly represented by protected areas. Industrial expansion threatens to fragment the contiguous habitats found in the WHSA — reducing the ability of the area to perform important landscape functions at local and continental scales. For this research, I employed a systematic conservation planning approach to prioritize lands for conservation action in the WHSA. The software MARXAN with integer linear programming (ILP) was used to produce optimal solutions for conservation, at the lowest cost, and to enforce principles of protected area design. Priority lands for conservation action were those that met the science-based targets for a selection of ecological surrogates, displayed low edge-to-area ratios, and represented intact landscapes outside the influence of resource development. The finalized conservation portfolio produced in this research is meant to inform protected area planning in the WHSA.