A quantitative analysis of biodiversity and the recreational value of potential national parks in Denmark

Denmark has committed itself to the European 2010 target to halt the loss of biodiversity. Currently, Denmark is in the process of designating larger areas as national parks, and 7 areas (of a possible 32 larger nature areas) have been selected for pilot projects to test the feasibility of establishing national parks. In this article, we first evaluate the effectiveness of the a priori network of national parks proposed through expert and political consensus versus a network chosen specifically for biodiversity through quantitative analysis. Second, we analyze the potential synergy between preserving biodiversity in terms of species representation and recreational values in selecting a network of national parks. We use the actual distribution of 973 species within these 32 areas and 4 quantitative measures of recreational value. Our results show that the 7 pilot project areas are not significantly more effective in representing species than expected by chance and that considerably more efficient networks can be selected. Moreover, it is possible to select more-effective networks of areas that combine high representation of species with high ranking in terms of recreational values. Therefore, our findings suggest possible synergies between outdoor recreation and biodiversity conservation when selecting networks of national parks. Overall, this Danish case illustrates that data-driven analysis can not only provide valuable information to guide the decision-making process of designating national parks, but it can also be a means to identify solutions that simultaneously fulfill several goals (biodiversity preservation and recreational values)