Optimization methods can be beneficial when there are spatial dependencies, such that the selection of one place influences the value of including other areas. Optimization may also be useful when a conservation project has multiple goals and there are tradeoffs among the goals. Multiple-objective spatial planning is a rapidly evolving field, with approaches that vary widely in their complexity. Marxan, Consnet, and Zonation have been used successfully in conservation contexts. If a strategy is likely to have costs that also vary spatially, you may want to include this cost information (see step 6 below) before running an optimization.