CSP4250 - Conservation Area Design using Marxan

Course CodeCSP4250
Course TitleConservation Area Design using Marxan

Pre-requisite:  A working knowledge of GIS software tools, either ArcGIS or QGIS. 

This 4.5 day training course will begin will begin with a non-technical introduction to Marxan and its use as a decision-support tool in spatial conservation planning, followed by hands-on technical training.

Marxan is one of the most widely used conservation and resource use planning tool globally. It can support the design of a protected area network in marine, terrestrial, and freshwater areas. Developed by Ian Ball and Hugh Possingham from the University of Queensland, Australia, Marxan supports spatial prioritization by producing transparent and repeatable results. The software can facilitate smart decision-making that accounts for a broad range of stakeholders and trade-offs in a spatially and economically efficient manner.


Non-technical introduction to Marxan (first 1.5 days):

During the first one and a half days, participatory work sessions will set the context for the effective use of Marxan, aiming to help managers and technical experts situate technical work within the context of real-world planning and decision-making. The non-technical part of the course will cover topics such as:

  • When is Marxan the right tool? When is it not?
  • What questions does the tool address in the context of systematic conservation planning, marine spatial planning / integrated coastal zone management?
  • What inputs are required? What outputs are generated?
  • How can Maxan help integrate socio-economic and environmental concerns?
  • What are the data requirements to do so effectively?
  • How far can these tools go in helping difficult decisions regarding trade-offs between stakeholder groups?

OBJECTIVES FOR MANAGERS: To learn what Marxan can and cannot do, so they can better manage technical staff, and design processes that integrate the use of the tool in efficient ways.

OBJECTIVES FOR TECHNICIANS: To provide context for technical work in order to improve its impact, and to help technicians understand the situations in which they should or should not invest time in using these tools.

Hands-on technical introduction to Marxan (last 3 days):

The next 3 days of the course will offer hands-on technical training on how to use Marxan to support the design of a network of conservation areas. Topics will include:

  • Addressing key principles of systematic conservation planning in Marxan
  • Generation of Marxan input files from GIS data
  • Parameter setting and calibration in Marxan
  • Visualising Marxan results in a GIS
  • Understanding and communicating Marxan results
  • Evaluating Marxan solutions and scenarios
  • Brief introduction to Marxan with Zones


To enable trainees to successfully use Marxan to solve spatial conservation planning problems.


Biologists, GIS analysts and environmental planners who are responsible for landscape conservation planning.

Delivery MethodInstructor Led
Non-FWS Fee$1,195.00
Instructional Hours36
Course Content ContactEric Kelchlin; eric_kelchlin@fws.gov; 304-876-7453; eric_kelchlin@fws.gov
Curriculum CategoryStatistics and Modeling
Registration LinkLMS
College Credit NameSemester Hours
College Credit Value2
Extracted from DOI LEARN on12/15/2018 3:30:20 AM

Schedule:  CSP4250 - Conservation Area Design using Marxan