Conservation where people live and work

James R. Miller, Richard J. Hobbs

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Effective conservation planning requires information from well-designed studies across a spectrum of land uses, ranging from wildlands to highly modified production landscapes and large cities. There is currently a lack of such information about human settlement, even though this is a major source of land-use change with serious implications for biodiversity. Fewer than 6% of the papers in recent volumes of Conservation Biology described work conducted in urban, suburban, or exurban areas or studies in which human settlement was considered explicitly. For a variety of reasons, conservation has tended to focus on lands with a relatively small human presence, often dominated by resource extraction and agriculture. Urbanization is occurring in numerous biodiversity hotspots worldwide, however, and has been identified as a primary cause of declines in many threatened and endangered species. Suburban and exurban growth are affecting biodiversity in many places once thought of as too remote to attract such levels of development. Conservation biologists must address the issue of human settlement to enhance the habitat value of unreserved lands for native species, to increase landscape connectivity between reserves, and to mitigate adverse influences on reserves from adjacent lands. Conservation and restoration of native habitats in densely settled areas also have social and educational value. We therefore suggest a more balanced approach in conservation biology to addressing the effects of human land use through increased attention to areas where people live and work.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)330-337
Number of pages8
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation


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