Conservation planning for people and nature in a Chilean biodiversity hotspot.
This paper explores the scenarios to expand the protected area system in Chile towards sectors rich in biodiversity to improve conservation while simultaneously reducing the current inequities in social access to protected areas. A free and open spatial planning software was applied to assist in designing new nature reserves or expanding existing ones to most effectively protect biodiversity given limited resources. Three scenarios were tested: minimise land cost scenario which prioritize the selection of less expensive sites, the maximum penalty for social access favouring the selection of areas that currently have low social access and the combined land cost and social access scenario that seeks to reduce land cost and improve social accessibility at the same time. The results showed that it is possible to improve social accessibility and biodiversity at a lower cost. It also showed that the most efficient scenario is the one that jointly considers land cost and social access, which showed that the protected area network could be slightly expanded (3% of the area) to greatly improve biodiversity (by 86%) at a minimal land cost.