Local government planning agencies play an important role in conserving biodiversity in human-altered landscapes. Such agencies frequently have a limited knowledge of wildlife biology and few resources to carry out research, and therefore require simple, practical guidelines for biodiversity conservation. We propose five steps for terrestrial ecological landscape design for biodiversity conservation that are simple, hierarchical, prescriptive, and supported by current landscape ecological science. Unlike existing guidelines our steps can be implemented in any given landscape using only land cover data and they explicitly consider constraints on land use planning.
The steps, in the order in which they should be implemented are:
(1) select land cover data and decide which land cover classes constitute natural or non-natural land covers
(2) list the constraints on land use planning (e.g., economic, social) that exist for the landscape
(3) maximize the amount and diversity of natural land cover, especially near water
(4) minimize human disturbance within non-natural land cover, especially near water
(5) aggregate the non-natural land covers associated with high-intensity land uses, especially away from water.