An integrative area selection method for biodiversity conservation in the DMZ and the CCZ of South Korea



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The purpose of this research is to propose effective ways to select areas for biodiversity conservation in the CCZ (Civilian Control Zone) and the DMZ (Demilitarized Zone). To define “biodiversity,” I discuss the key concepts and their historical applications in the field of planning and related fields. After critiques on intuitive and conventional approaches to biodiversity conservation planning, I apply an integrative approach that combines systematic area selection process and information on human perspectives. The study focuses on the case of the CCZ and the DMZ in South Korea, where the invaluable natural environment recovered from the ruins of battle and biodiversity has thrived since the cease-fire of Korean War in 1953. However, despite a recent increase of public awareness on the significance of conservation in the CCZ and the DMZ, extremely limited access for military security and buried landmines, and the lack of data have been significant barriers for effective biodiversity conservation. It is also controversial about how to measure the value of biodiversity in the region to select areas for conservation, while simultaneously considering local residents’ concerns in the CCZ. Thus, I examine historical efforts and methods developed for area selections for biodiversity conservation in the CCZ, and explore ways to apply integrative approaches in the context of the CCZ. The integrative method is based on using systematic area selection algorithms for biodiversity content analysis and a qualitative research to understand local residents’ perspectives. Information about local residents’ values toward social and physical environment is obtained from a focus group study, which identified useful criteria in terms of spatial configuration and socio-cultural issues. The multiple criteria are carefully interpreted and applied to evaluate area network options produced from the computer-based area selection analysis. The final area networks represent the best selections based on available data and multiple criteria directly associated with spatial configuration. Adhering to the principles of systematic conservation planning, the integrative method proposed in this study may provide a more flexible framework that can be adapted in the dynamic social context of the CCZ and the DMZ.