Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 January 2016
Choosing appropriate management strategies and effective conservation actions requires information about the future consequences of current conservation actions; however, this crucial information is rarely available to conservation planners. This study applies scenario planning and agent-based modelling (ABM) to assess the potential impact of alternative management strategies on future suitability and functional connectivity of Cross River gorilla (CRG) habitat in the Nigeria–Cameroon border region. The CRG population is small and fragmented, with many subpopulations and migration corridors located outside protected areas. This study used ABM to simulate human land use in the study area over a period of 15 years under different management scenarios and assessed the impact on future suitability and functional connectivity of CRG habitat. The simulations showed that a landscape approach with greater focus on interventions to change human behaviour towards conserving gorillas and sustainable forest use would result in greater improvement in habitat suitability and functional connectivity compared to focusing on improving law enforcement within existing protected areas. However, the best scenarios were when both law enforcement and behaviour change increased. The results highlight the importance of human behaviour change to conservation in human-dominated landscapes and can inform conservation planning and management of other species and in similar landscapes.