Using farmland prices to evaluate cost-efficiency of national versus regional reserve selection in Denmark

The current study focuses on the influence of geopolitical coordination of conservation strategies on cost and efficiency in terms of species representation when selecting network of protected areas. Conservation policies in the EU are implemented at many different administrative levels: from the European Union and national levels, to regional or/county levels within member countries. This arise the question what size of efficiency gains could be achieved if planning of conservation priorities could be coordinated between geopolitical units. Using data for the nationwide distribution of 763 species, representing all Danish species within eight taxa, we compared illustrative costs for the addition of new areas to the existing conservation network in order to ensure full coverage of all species. We found that the cost of independent regional planning is 20-fold higher than an inter-regional and nationally co-ordinated strategy. We also found that substituting land prices for a simple land-area measure in our analyses increased the expected conservation costs differential significantly, without increasing coverage of species representations. We suggest that in economic and biodiversity terms it can largely be a win–win situation to set a common goal, to develop priority-strategies, and to coordinate actions at higher rather than lower levels of administration.