Software developed in CBIG

CBIG - CON­SER­VA­TION BIO­LOGY IN­FORM­AT­ICS GROUP was a research group in the department of Biosciences of the University of Helsinki. The team was lead by the professor Atte Moilanen who is currently part of the Digital Geography Lab.

The CBIG group developed methods and analyses that use information about biodiversity distribution in conservation decision making to answer questions such as Where to protect?, Where and how to maintain and restore habitats?, How to minimize negative impacts of land use decisions?, and What consequences will our actions have for biodiversity?

One of the major contributions was conservation prioritization software ZONATION, which is widely used in science and conservation practice. Another software RobOff can be used to target alternative land use options. The license information, rights of use and additional information can be found under each individual program entry or from the readme file within the program download. 

1. What is Zonation?

Zonation is a freely available decision support software tool for ecologically based land use planning including applications in spatial conservation planning and ecological impact avoidance. It is capable of data rich, large scale, high resolution spatial conservation prioritization. Zonation operates on spatial data about biodiversity features (species, habitats, ecosystem services), costs and threats. It can also utilize information about uncertainty and ecological factors such as connectivity. It is a major property of Zonation that it can maintain the many dimensions of biodiversity through prioritization. Zonation implements a broad set of methods and analyses in one package, allowing versatile use for solving many different types of problems.



2. Typical uses of Zonation include (of course conditional on data availability)

  •  Planning of reserve networks
  •  Planning of reserve network expansions
  •  Reserve network evaluation
  •  Decision support for land use zoning
  •  Planning for ecological impact avoidance in development projects
  •  Targeting of habitat restoration
  •  Spatial planning for biodiversity offsets
  •  Applications outside conservation

3. Data sizes

High dimensional data sets analyzed include application on the terrestrial areas of the world at an 1 km2 resolution (Di Minin et al. 2016) and almost 100 000 features in analysis (Verhagen et al. 2017). Studies that apply Zonation on high-dimensional data have been published both in Science (Kremen et al. 2008) and Nature (Pouzols et al. 2014).

4. More information

Zonation has been developed by Atte Moilanen and his research group at the University of Helsinki. For more information perhaps start from the Zv4 leaflet. Also see the introductory manual (Di Minin et al. 2014), the Running Zonation projects manual (Lehtomäki et al. 2016), Moilanen et al. (2005) and (2011), Lehtomäki and Moilanen (2013).

More information how Zonation is used in Finnish Environmental Institute:

For illustrative Finnish Zonation applications see




Zonation leaflet

Zonation quick introduction manual (approx 30 pages)

Running Zonation projects manual (approx 60 pages)

- Zv4 technical manual

Full download, including software, manuals, presentations, and example setups (300 Mb .zip file)For illustrative Finnish Zonation applications see [link].


RobOff is software for (non-spatial) targeting of alternative land use options, when actions have variable costs and different effects over time. RobOff comes from Robust biodiversity Offsetting, one of the uses of the software.

Roboff download, including software and manuals