Supporting conservation with software

Marxan is a software tool that delivers decision support for conservation planning in marine and terrestrial environments. It helps inform the selection of new conservation areas for minimal cost, facilitating the exploration of trade-offs between conservation and socio-economic objectives.

Our researchers were instrumental in Marxan's development in the 1990s to help the Australian Government’s Regional Forest Agreements process. Since then we have frequently helped to update it, and it has been used in many applications, including the rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

More than 7,000 users in 180 countries have adopted Marxan, making it the world's most widely used conservation planning tool. Its users are based in 220 universities, the UN, the IUCN, major conservation NGOs and some 50 government agencies. 

As much as five per cent of the earth's surface area has been influenced by implemented Marxan plans. 

Examples of the software's use internationally include:

  • informing the design of marine protected areas for California’s Channel Islands
  • exploring trade-offs between conservation and socio-economic objectives in the Pacific Islands
  • helping establish Malaysia’s largest marine protected area
  • contributing to rezoning in Patagonia and the Amazon
  • being used by the Nature Conservancy to construct most of their eco-regional plans. 

See our impact

Read more case studies.