The objective of this paper is to present an approach that addresses competing land uses in the reserve site selection problem. This approach is implemented in a spatial optimization model for conservation planning in human-dominated landscapes: MENTOR. This model allocates new sites as stepping stones between existing sites. We illustrated the model by a case with competition for space between wildlife habitat and agriculture as it occurs in the Netherlands. We focused on deciduous forests with the European nuthatch Sitta europaea as an umbrella species for forest birds. Suitability maps for deciduous forests and for agriculture were applied as input for the allocation model. Effects on the landscape pattern, nuthatch populations, bird species richness and dairy farming were described. We can conclude that the application of MENTOR leads to an effective reserve network in De Leijen concerning the suitability of the land for dairy farming. The results show a doubling of the average proportion of occupied habitat, an increase in colonization probability of patches, a decrease in extinction probability of local populations, and an increase in bird species richness per patch. Whereas it results in a relatively small reduction in land currently used by agriculture.