The conservation of global biodiversity increasingly relies on a network of protected areas, such as national parks and other types of reserves, to help ensure the survival of selected plant and animal species. Recent research identified gaps in this network—occurrences of key species not covered by protected areas—along with priority locations for creating new protected areas to fill the gaps. In this study we examine human demographics, land cover, and agricultural suitability in the priority gap locations to assess their potential for hosting some form of biodiversity conservation. Our results indicate that many gaps in the protected area network occur in settings conducive to conservation, characterized by limited human presence, large contiguous tracts of conservation-compatible habitat, and low agricultural potential. Detailed studies of gap locations, using local data and incorporating input from key stakeholders, will allow conservation actions that are appropriate for their human context.
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Vol. 56 • No. 9