The Value of Small Preserves in Chronically Fragmented Landscapes

  • Mark W. Schwartz
  • Phillip J. van Mantgem


The 1990s has ushered in a transition among conservation practitioners from focusing on maximizing quality in preserve acquisition to a “bigger is better” philosophy. This change seems to be driven both by the difficulty in managing many small preserves and an urge to incorporate the concepts of biological sustainability on a regional scale. Bioreserves, bioregions, biosphere reserves, and sustainable development areas are the popular conservation terms for the 1990s. Noss and Cooperrider (1994, 142) assert that the “old model of isolated parks has failed. Unless it contains many millions of acres, no reserve can maintain its biodiversity for long.” Similarly, Pickett and Thompson (1978, 34) define a minimum dynamic area for preserves the “smallest area with a natural disturbance regime which maintains internal recolonization sources.” A variety of authors who have focused on large-scale wilderness preserves have made estimates, based primarily on personal experience, to suggest that anywhere between 25% and 75% of a region must be dedicated to the maintenance of biodiversity to succeed over the long term (sources reviewed in Noss and Cooperrider 1994, 167–172). Within this context, Noss and Cooperrider (1994, 172) refer to U.S. Forest Service Research and Natural Areas with sizes under 1,000 ha as “tiny.”


Natural Area Conservation Biology Large Reserve Large Site Conservation Goal 
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Copyright information

© Chapman & Hall 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark W. Schwartz
    • 1
  • Phillip J. van Mantgem
    • 2
  1. 1.Center for Population BiologyUniversity of California-DavisDavisUSA
  2. 2.Graduate Group in EcologyUniversity of California-DavisDavisUSA

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