Triage: How do we prioritize health care for landscapes?

Richard J. Hobbs, Linda J. Kristjanson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

64 Citations (Scopus)


We explore the potential use of health care as a metaphor for landscape-scale conservation. In human health-care provision, a range of care options is generally available to cover the various levels of treatment required and the degree of urgency of that treatment. The concept of triage is frequently used in emergency situations where many people may be injured and decisions have to be made on the relative urgency of treatment for different individuals versus the relative likelihood of the success of that treatment. Indeed, the need to decide on level and type of care extends throughout health-care provision, and the array of health-care options available can be displayed on a grid that considers relative level of need or threat and the probability of recovery. A similar grid can be constructed for landscape management, which considers level of threat and the probability of system persistence or recovery. The grid differentiates between a variety of scenarios ranging from the need for prompt management action to protect or restore important habitat through to preventative threat minimization. We suggest that the broad concept of triage goes beyond the simple allocation of patients, landscapes or species into urgent, not urgent, and terminal categories and, instead, offers a rational basis for considering allocation of appropriate levels of management to different situations. We also suggest that the practice of restoration has much to learn from health care, where decisions are made daily on the allocation of appropriate levels of care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)S39-S45
JournalEcological Management and Restoration
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2003
Externally publishedYes


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