Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
106RA: Land systems for conservation science - Part A
Wednesday, 24/Apr/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Tobias Kuemmerle
Session Chair: Yann le Polain de Waroux
Location: MB-101
Main Building, room 101, 1st floor, east wing, 80 (+14) seats
Session Topics:
What are the visions for the planetary land system?

Session Abstract

Land use change is and will continue to be, the main driver of biodiversity loss, yet the systemic and complex nature of land use remains widely underappreciated in conservation science and practice. This translates into conservation actions that are less effective and less aligned with other land-use goals than they could be. Land system science has developed a range of concepts, approaches and datasets that could greatly enrich conservation science if better integrated. For example, the identification of typical land systems and pathways of change can help to structure the sometimes-overwhelming diversity of land-use actors, land-use practices and socio-ecological contexts. In particular, since land systems are linked to distinct portfolios of threats, identifying such portfolios provides opportunities to understand the occurrence of threats, and the interactions and feedbacks among them. Moreover, the increasing emphasis in land system science on decision-making at the level of actors provides new avenues for assessing how land-use actors relate to diverse threats, how conservation action and outcomes can influence their land-use decisions, and thus ultimately what determines effective conservation. Finally, the increasing focus on linking place-based and network-based analytical lenses in land systems science provides means to assess the importance of distal factors in shaping geographies of local threats to biodiversity and reveal new entry points for conservation action, such as through supply-chain mechanisms. This session explores new concepts and approaches to shift to a more systemic consideration of land use in conservation science. This will highlight how a land systems paradigm can help to better understanding threats to biodiversity, how to effectively address them, and where and how conservation opportunities emerge. As such, this session strongly relates to all three themes of the conference, but particularly to theme 1, as it will discuss new ways to analysing conservation challenges in land systems, and theme 2, as it will discuss new concepts and showcase applications how to navigate biodiversity/land-use trade-offs in land systems.

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Full talk
ID: 417 / 106RA: 1
106R Land systems for conservation science
Keywords: anthropogenic impacts, intact forests, overexploitation, overhunting, wild meat

Intact but empty forests? Patterns of hunting-induced mammal defaunation in the tropics

Ana Benítez López1, Luca Santini1, Aafke M. Schipper1,2, Michela Busana1, Mark A.J. Huijbregts1

1Radboud University, Netherlands, The; 2PBL, Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, Netherlands, The

Tropical forests are increasingly degraded by industrial logging, urbanization, agriculture and infrastructure, with only 20% of the remaining area considered intact. However, this figure does not include other, more cryptic but pervasive forms of degradation, such as the use of land for hunting activities. Here, we quantified and mapped the spatial patterns of mammal defaunation using a database of 3,281 mammal abundance declines from local hunting studies. We simultaneously accounted for population abundance declines and the probability of local extirpation of a population as a function of several predictors related to human accessibility to remote areas and species’ vulnerability to hunting. We estimated an average abundance decline of 13% across all tropical mammal populations, and of > 40% for large mammals. Mammal populations are predicted to be overhunted (i.e. declines of at least 10%) in ca. 50% of the pantropical forest area (14 mill. km2), particularly in West Africa, with population declines exceeding 70%. We further found that 52-62% of the intact forests and wilderness areas are partially devoid of large mammals, and that 20% of protected areas in the tropics are overhunted, particularly in West and Central Africa and SE Asia. The pervasive effects of overhunting on tropical mammal populations may have profound ramifications for ecosystem functioning and the livelihoods of wild-meat-dependent communities, and underscore that forest coverage alone might not be a good proxy of ecosystem intactness. We call for a systematic consideration of these effects in (large-scale) biodiversity assessments which currently overlook hunting impacts on wildlife and thus likely underestimate total biodiversity loss

Full talk
ID: 631 / 106RA: 2
106R Land systems for conservation science
Keywords: Systematic conservation planning, Biodiversity conservation, Agent-based modeling, Biogeography, Speices extintion, Sustainability

How to avoid conservation leakage? – Systematic conservation planning incorporating people's decision making

Takuya Iwamura

Tel Aviv University, Israel

Systematic conservation planning (SCP) aims to improve conservation programs by identifying land configurations or management actions that would most efficiently contribute the species persistence and maintaining biodiversity. SCP has been actively applied to various conservation programs around the world as it provides quantitative conservation outcomes with clear messages to stakeholders with beautifully illustrated maps. Despite its both theoretical and pragmatic contributions, SCP has been criticized for failing to incorporate human well-being into consideration as well as for replacing site-based conservation plans that often consider social context (e.g. community based conservations).

In particular, SCP often treats people as passive entities that are merely impacted by conservation interventions (e.g. establishment of protected areas) and do not actively change their behaviors in response to these interventions. In reality, however, humans are autonomous agents who adapt to the new circumstances created by changes in policy environments, and actively shape these situations and policy environments themselves. One of the issues associated with the human agency is conservation leakage, where we witness that resource extraction is simply dislocated to other areas outside of protected areas.

Land system science can contribute SCP through its recent development to effectively integrate social context and human agency into land cover change modeling such as through agent-based modeling (ABM). Further, we have seen several attempts to extend human agency to spatially explicit ecological models such as meta-population models and vegetation succession models.

Here we suggest that insights from land system science can revolutionize SCP to incorporate social processes and human agency. We will explore several initial ideas and modeling framework to incorporate ABM into SCP decision framework. This represents a necessary first step for SCP to reinvent itself as a decision-support tool that helps to reconcile the long-standing divide between landscape-level species conservation and social needs.

Full talk
ID: 559 / 106RA: 3
106R Land systems for conservation science
Keywords: land competition, protected areas, protected area downgrading, downsizing, and degazzettement (PADDD), conservation planning

Land competition and the downgrading, downsizing, and degazettement of protected areas

Siyu Qin1,2, Rachel E. Golden Kroner1,3, Michael B Mascia1, Tobias Kuemmerle2

1Conservation International, USA; 2Humboldt-University of Berlin, Germany; 3George Mason University, USA

Land system science and conservation science both often assume that protected areas are permanent once established. Such assumption leads to the common practices that land system models simply mask out protected areas. Similarly, conservation planning rarely considers that protection status might change in the future. Empirical studies, however, find that legal changes in protected areas are frequent and often lead to a downgrading (lower level of protection), downsizing (reduction in area), or even degazettment (elimination) of protected areas (together: PADDD). Here, we document recent patterns, trends, and proximate causes of PADDD events and explore the external risk factors, particularly the rising competition for land. Through archival research in 15 countries, and additional opportunistic data collection globally, we identified 3,748 enacted PADDD events in 73 countries, and 847 proposed events in 24 countries. The main reasons for PADDD events often relate to the alternative use or the rising competition for land. Over 60% of PADDD decisions are made to allow industrial-scale natural resource extraction and infrastructure development. Land use changes around and within PAs may also relate to PADDD decisions, as PAs experiencing high levels of deforestation are more likely to lose their protected status. Our work introduces standard methods for studying the legal rollback of protected status, and re-addresses the importance of considering changes in protected area networks - both in terms of extent and level of protection status - in assessments of land system dynamic and conservation planning.

Full talk
ID: 575 / 106RA: 4
106R Land systems for conservation science
Keywords: ecosystem services, biodiversity, birds, protected areas, multi-criteria optimization

Using the ecosystem service concept in conservation science – opportunity or risk?

Anna Cord1, Michael Beckmann1, Andreas Dittrich1, Anne Jungandreas1, Michael Strauch1, Martin Volk1,2, Guy Ziv3

1Department of Computational Landscape Ecology, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Permoserstr. 15, 04318 Leipzig, Germany; 2Institute of Geoscience and Geography, Martin-Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, 06099 Halle (Saale), Germany; 3School of Geography, Faculty of Environment, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK

Land use and management decisions have a strong bearing on biodiversity, the integrity and condition of ecosystems and their capacity to provide ecosystem services. Especially the intensive use of ecosystems (e.g. for agricultural production) in many cases leads to negative impacts on biodiversity (often called ‘trade-offs’). As the ecosystem service concept gained momentum in science and policy agendas, it has redefined current biodiversity policies such as the 2020 Aichi Targets and the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 to conserve nature beyond its intrinsic value. As framed in the ‘New Conservation’ approach, protected areas are increasingly expected to serve dual goals: protect biodiversity and secure ecosystem services. Focusing on bird species, this presentation will briefly present exemplary results from three different studies aimed at disentangling the complex relationships between biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services. The first example quantifies the negative and positive impacts on targeted bird species, as reported by conservation managers, resulting from the use of nine ecosystem services in Natura 2000 Special Protection Areas (SPAs) across Europe. The second example analyzes patterns of ecosystem service bundles together with spatial data of the rarity of breeding birds in Germany. The final example, a case study from Central Germany, shows how breeding habitat of endangered bird species can be prioritized together with different ecosystem services in multi-criteria land use allocation procedures. The presentation will conclude with a short summary of the opportunities and risks of using the ecosystem service concept in conservation science.

Full talk
ID: 668 / 106RA: 5
106R Land systems for conservation science
Keywords: deforestation, supply chain, sustainability certification, oil palm, Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil

Mapping the global footprint of High Conservation Value areas

Kimberly Marie Carlson1, Charlotte Zoe Smith1, Robert Heilmayr2, Olivia Scholtz3

1University of Hawaii, Manoa, United States of America; 2University of California, Santa Barbara, United States of America; 3High Conservation Value Resource Network (HCVRN), United Kingdom

Private environmental governance of commodity supply chains that pose a risk to tropical forests has grown rapidly over the last ten years. Participation in these governance initiatives, including sustainability certification systems and zero-deforestation commitments, requires that commodity producers avoid clearing forests. While definitions and methods for identification of such forests vary widely, the High Conservation Value (HCV) methodology – which recognizes biological, ecological, social, and cultural conservation values - is often used to identify lands off-limits to clearance. However, the extent, distribution, and characteristics (e.g., percent forest cover) of HCV areas protected under these initiatives remains largely unknown. Therefore, it remains uncertain to what extent identified HCV Management Areas contribute to the conservation goals of these governance initiatives, and whether such “corporate protected areas” offer additional conservation benefits beyond public protected areas. Here, we ask: What is the extent, distribution, and characteristics of HCVs, and how do these attributes compare to those of public protected areas? To address these questions, we digitize HCV areas from across the tropics identified by Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) member companies, which produce >20% of all global palm oil. Initial results suggest that >4,000 km2 of HCV area has been designated in landscapes at risk of forest conversion for oil palm. We then quantify key attributes of HCVs related to conservation of biodiversity (e.g. area, patch size, forest cover, overlap with threatened species ranges) and risk of deforestation (e.g., slope, distance to palm oil mill) and compare them to attributes of nearby World Database on Protected Areas set-asides. This research provides insight into the spatio-temporal footprint of supply chain conservation policies and informs efforts to adapt these policies to more effectively conserve ecosystems in commodity production landscapes.

Full talk
ID: 733 / 106RA: 6
106R Land systems for conservation science
Keywords: development, conservation, sustainability tradeoffs, future making

People, elephants, and trees in the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area: Constructing land use futures from the past

Jan Börner1, Wulf Amelung1, Anja Lindstädter1, Maximilian Meyer1, Alfons Mosimane2, Jesaya Nakanyala2, Alexandra Sandhage-Hofmann1, Vladimir Wingate3

1University of Bonn, Germany; 2University of Namibia, Namibia; 3University of Basel, Switzerland

Since 2006, the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) cuts across very distinct rural landscapes of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Despite its declared goal to harmonize policies, strategies, and practices, current land use patterns in the five national subzones of the KAZA are historically determined outcomes of interactions between people, wildlife, and natural vegetation dynamics in heterogeneous political, economic, cultural, and biophysical settings. This paper provides the building blocks for a “middle-range theory of land system change” (Meyfroidt et al. 2018) to construct possible and probable short and medium-term future scenarios of development-environment tradeoffs and synergies in one of the world’s largest transfrontier conservation areas. We systematically take stock and compare data from remotely sensed land cover classifications, wildlife population counts, official statistics, farm-household surveys, and historical milestones across the five KAZA subzones. Our results suggest that rural development trajectories, wildlife population dynamics, and related land use and land cover changes in these subzones are inextricably linked to: (1) bio-geophysical landscape features, such as river flows and regular flood events, as well as (2) country-specific economic, cultural, and political histories, including sluggish rural development in some subzones, traditional leadership systems, and the South African border war. Emerging drivers of land use futures in the region include the Walvis Bay-Ndola-Lubumbashi Development Corridor and conservation initiatives such as the KAZA. Moreover, new goal tradeoffs materialize as countries in the South African Development Community (SADC) diversify conservation objectives to include REDD+. Land use futures in the KAZA are thus increasingly shaped by the ability of local actors to integrate top-down and community-based development and conservation initiatives toward managing interactions between humans, wildlife, and vegetation.

Full talk
ID: 866 / 106RA: 7
106R Land systems for conservation science
Keywords: land change

Conservation and land competition: conservation planning in the context of Land Degradation Neutrality.

Alex Ivan Zvoleff, Mariano Gonzalez Roglich, Monica Noon

Conservation International, United States of America

Sustainable Development Goal 15.3 has set a target of achieving Land Degradation Neutrality (LDN) by 2030. Becoming a land degradation neutral world will require a balancing of land use decisions such that land degradation is avoided, reduced, or reversed on sufficient land area to ensure that, overall, there is no net increase by 2030 (on national bases) in the area of land that is degraded compared to a baseline period of 2000-2015. Aligned with efforts to achieve LDN, national governments have committed to significant investment in forest restoration through the Bonn Challenge and regional efforts like Initiative 20x20 in Latin America and AFR100 in Africa. International NGOs have simultaneously aligned behind forest restoration in part due to the potential benefits of restoration in terms of carbon sequestration. Drawing on novel datasets from the Trends.Earth project, this talk will discuss the potential of these efforts to catalyze changes in land governance that impact on biodiversity conservation, and of the potential biodiversity consequences of alternative restoration pathways for achieving LDN.

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