It is becoming increasingly difficult to manage and expand statutory conservation areas (i.e., parks and formally protected areas). Therefore, alternative opportunities for land conservation merit closer attention. This paper examines the extent to which privately owned conservation areas contribute to biodiversity representation. Gap analyses were performed for a large semi-arid region in South Africa with a comprehensive database of private conservation areas. The distribution of private conservation areas was compared to statutory conservation areas using several landscape characteristics: biome and vegetation variant, elevation class, ecological process area, total area, and threat status (endangerment). Conservation target achievement for the vegetation variants was also assessed, as was the degree to which private conservation areas complemented statutory conservation areas by representing different landscape characteristics. The number of targets achieved nearly tripled if private conservation areas were considered in addition to statutory conservation areas. Further, private conservation areas signi?cantly complemented statutory conservation areas in the types of biomes, elevation classes, and threat status classes conserved. Private conservation areas were especially important in conserving lower elevation habitat, and by association, endangered vegetation. This particular relationship is expected to be common worldwide. Our results indicate that private lands conservation deserves an increased allocation of resources for both research and implementation.

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