A tool to measure the potential ecological impact (footprint) of developments outside of protected areas is novel and long overdue. Whilst there are numerous methods currently available for mapping important regions for conservation within protected areas, there are few suitable tools available for assessing the ecological value of landscapes that are ‘beyond the reserves’. Given that this accounts for over 88% of the world's terrestrial surface, a systematic tool for determining the ecological value of these landscapes could be relevant to any industrial development that results in a parcel of land being transformed from ‘natural’ to ‘industrial’.
Results are presented of a joint project between Statoil and University of Oxford, UK to develop an automatic web-based tool that can assess the ecological value of land outside of protected areas. Ecological factors currently considered within this tool include i) biodiversity, ii) vulnerability, iii) fragmentation, iv) connectivity and v) resilience. The tool has the capability to provide ecological valuations for parcels of land at 300m resolution and uses data that are publicly available and have mostly global coverage. We present results for three case study areas in Canada, Algeria and the Russian Federation to demonstrate its potential and how it can be used to plan development within a concession area in order that damage to local ecosystems and ecosystem functioning is minimized.