Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
101RA: Trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in dynamic landscapes - Part A
Wednesday, 24/Apr/2019:
11:15am - 12:45pm

Session Chair: Ralf Seppelt
Session Chair: Elizabeth Law
Location: UniS-A 003
UniS Building, Auditorium A 003, ground floor, 178 seats + 54 seats on gallery on first floor
Session Topics:
What are the visions for the planetary land system?

Session Abstract

Rapidly evolving land systems often bring about drastic changes in the trade-offs between production-oriented land uses and social-ecological outcomes. These trade-offs are often strongest between agriculture and biodiversity. Where agriculture expands and intensifies, habitat conversion and degradation typically causes the erosion of biodiversity and many non-provisioning ecosystem services. Conversely, relaxing land-use pressure can translate into substantial opportunities for conservation. How can we best understand and manage trade-offs in dynamic landscapes in order to create co-benefits between agricultural production and conservation? This session explores how we can best understand and mitigate trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in dynamic landscapes. Such landscapes can occur across the full land-use transition spectrum: from agricultural frontiers into natural areas that might emerge as a result of technological breakthroughs, to rapid transformations of traditional framing landscapes to intensified, globally integrated landscapes as a result of market integration, to rapid land abandonment as a result of institutional shocks. The potential for conflict between economic and environmental outcomes increase in such situations, but the spatial re-arrangement of land systems also brings about opportunities for lessening environmental impacts and for restoration and rewilding. Making use of these opportunities, however, is challenging for research and policymaking. Land-use and conservation planning need to move from a static to a dynamic paradigm: socio-economic models and causes of land system change are likely to be shifting as new actors enter and new trends emerge, and data may be unavailable or outdated in rapidly changing environments. These challenges require bold transportation of models over new spatial and temporal contexts, and an explicit consideration of uncertainty is central. This session will showcase emerging approaches and applications to characterize and analyse trade-offs in dynamic landscapes, to translate tools and insights into information relevant for stakeholders and policymakers, and thus to re-imagine land systems through these dynamic futures.

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Full talk
ID: 583 / 101RA: 1
101R Trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in dynamic landscapes
Keywords: Trade-offs, multi-criteria optimization, deforestation, tropical dry forests, land-use planning

Mitigating tradeoffs between agriculture, biodiversity and carbon in the Gran Chaco

Tobias Kuemmerle1, Leandro Macchi1,2, Elizabeth Law1,5, Ignacio Gasparri2, Ricardo H. Grau2, Ricardo Torres3,4, Kerrie Wilson5

1Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany; 2Instituto de Ecología Regional, CONICET Tucumán, Argentina; 3Instituto de Diversidad y Ecología Animal (IDEA-CONICET); 4Museo de Zoología, FCEFyN, Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, X5000JJC Córdoba, Argentina; 5Institute for Future Environments, Queensland University of Technology, Australia

Trade-offs between agricultural production and the environment are particularly strong in tropical deforestation frontiers, and understanding how to mitigate these trade-offs is important. Focusing on the Northern Argentinian Dry Chaco, a global deforestation hotspot, we developed a landscape-scale possibility frontier describing the trade-offs between agricultural production (profits), carbon stocks, and biodiversity (relative abundance of birds and mammals). We then compare potential landscape patterns for maximizing these three dimensions across a set of increasingly constrained scenarios.

Our analyses resulted in five major insights. First, the current Chaco landscape is relatively far away from the possibility frontier, suggesting major potentials for better outcomes in at least one dimension (agriculture, carbon or biodiversity). Second, avoiding major losses in biodiversity and carbon stocks requires protecting major shares of the remaining forest. If deforestation in the Chaco continues unabated, trade-offs will be stark. Third, silvopastoral systems (i.e., pastures with trees) are critical to minimize trade-offs, as excluding this system removed much of the available options space to better align the three dimensions. Silvopastures should retain at least 30-40% of the canopy to avoid rapid biodiversity loss. Fourth, smallholders (i.e., puesteros, practicing mainly forest grazing) do not have a major effect on the available option space. Thus, although their impact locally can be large, maintaining smallholder systems can be aligned with conservation goals at the landscape scale. Finally, the current governmental zoning (i.e., the Forest Law) did not constrain the option space substantially, however, minimizing trade-offs would require re-zoning. The current zoning seems to only weakly protect biodiversity and carbon where agriculture is highly profitable.

More broadly, our analyses show how multi-criteria optimization can help to describe trade-offs at broad scales, to identify land system allocations that mitigate these trade-offs, and to assess the impacts of policy scenarios.

Full talk
ID: 651 / 101RA: 2
101R Trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in dynamic landscapes
Keywords: Agricultural intensification and expansion, Cross-country, Panel cointegration.

Agricultural intensification and land use change: testing the induced intensification, land sparing and rebound-effect hypotheses with cointegration

Virginia Rodríguez García1, Frédéric Gaspart1, Thomas Kastner2, Patrick Meyfroidt1,3

1Universite Catholique de Louvain (UCL), Belgium; 2Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, Germany; 3F.R.S.-FNRS, Brussels, Belgium

Growing societal demands for land-based products and services can be satisfied either through clearing new land for agriculture or by intensifying production on cultivated land. Land expansion generally entails high environmental and social tradeoffs. For this reason, agricultural intensification has been promoted as a central strategy to fulfill these demands while reducing the pressure on land. The corresponding land sparing hypothesis therefore postulates that intensification allows reducing cropland expansion. Yet, intensification can also drive expansion of land use. Indeed, the rebound-effect hypothesis asserts that intensification (increases on total factor productivity (TFP) or yield) can trigger further land use expansion by making agriculture more profitable. The induced intensification hypothesis postulates that restrictions on cropland expansion and increased demand per unit area can induce intensification. We tested those hypotheses using a global cross-country panel dataset over 1961-2016 and a cointegration model that allowed us to disentangle the long- and short-run causal relationships between our variables. For all crops together, in the short run, we found support for the induced intensification hypothesis for high-income countries, and the rebound effect for middle- and low-income countries. In the long-run, land sparing held for middle-income countries and rebound effect held for low income ones. We tested the same hypotheses for specific crops in different geographic contexts and showed land sparing in the long-run for staple cereals, a rebound effect for crops with high price elasticity of demand in the long- and short-run, and induce intensification for labor intensive crops in the short-run. Those results will contribute to a better understanding of the agriculture and biodiversity trade-offs at a global level. At the same time, the cointegration approach could be used for addressing other complex long and short run causal dynamics in land systems.

Full talk
ID: 445 / 101RA: 3
101R Trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in dynamic landscapes
Keywords: Food security, nature protection, integrated modelling, scenario analysis, expansion potentials, CGE modelling

Farming the future planet: Trade-offs between cropland expansion, intensification and biodiversity in context of agricultural markets

Florian Zabel1, Ruth Delzeit2, Julia Schneider1, Ralf Seppelt3, Wolfram Mauser1, Tomas Vaclavik4

1Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany; 2Kiel Institute for the World Economy, Germany; 3UFZ – Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, Leipzig, German; 4Palacky University Olomouc, Czech Republic

Cropland expansion and intensification represent the main strategies to boost agricultural production but they are also the major drivers of biodiversity loss. Here, we used separate scenarios of cropland expansion and intensification until 2030, built to reach equivalent production targets, and analysed the trade-offs between impacts these pathways have on agricultural markets and biodiversity. With both pathways assuming a 19% gain in global crop production compared to a baseline scenario, cropland expansion occurred mainly in Central and South America (+146% production increase), while intensification increased production in Sub-Saharan Africa (+78%), India (+68%) and Former Soviet Union (+63%). Even net importing regions benefited under both scenarios due to lower crop prices at the world market. Most at-risk biodiversity hotspots were found in the tropics, with expansion likely affecting considerably larger areas (1.6 million km2 with the top 10% of endemism richness) than intensification (133,000 km2). However, intensification was likely to threaten often overlooked regions e.g. in India or East Africa where existing small-scale farms have high intensification potential but harbour substantial biodiversity, typically under no form of protection. These results suggest that global production gains under both pathways might occur at the costs of biodiversity in developing tropical regions, while other regions benefit from lower world market prices without putting their biodiversity at risk. Our study highlights the hotspots where future conflicts between biodiversity and agriculture is likely to arise and where policy frameworks and conservation prioritization schemes are needed to balance agricultural production with conservation goals.

Full talk
ID: 806 / 101RA: 4
101R Trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in dynamic landscapes
Keywords: Fragmentation, Agriculture expansion, Charcoal production, Miombo woodlands, Mopane woodlands, Beta Diversity

Biodiversity of the African savanna woodlands: How does it change with land use?

Hemant Tripathi1,2, Casey Ryan2

1University of Leeds, United Kingdom; 2University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

The savanna woodlands of Southern Africa, colloquially termed the miombo, are poorly described in terms of biodiversity compared to other biomes. They have therefore been underrepresented in the wider understanding of how land use intensification is shaping global biodiversity. Land use change is known to reduce biodiversity and disrupt intactness of ecological communities with consequences for ecosystem functioning, resilience, and services. Miombo woodlands are described as biodiversity hotspots due to a high endemism of species and the presence of megafauna. At the same time, they are also considered dynamic socio-ecological systems shaped by disturbance and the land use activities of people. The patterns of biodiversity change in these tropical ecosystems may, therefore, have their own unique contexts, understanding of which is essential for biodiversity and land use management in these ecosystems.

Here, we identified the patterns of biodiversity change in response to the two major land use practices in the two dominant woodland types in southern African woodlands: the selective logging due to charcoal production in the mopane woodlands, and agricultural expansion in the miombo. We used chronosequences and employed a hierarchical multilevel modelling approach making inferences at the three levels of ecological communities: species, community, and meta-community.

In the charcoal production hotspot of southern Mozambique, our results suggested that the species richness of trees and mammals declined while that of beetles increased, albeit non-significantly. In addition, the beta diversity of trees decreased while that of mammals increased. The results show that while both trees and mammals reduced in richness, they responded differently to charcoal production in terms of community organisation. The trees underwent subtractive homogenisation (decrease in alpha and beta diversities) primarily because of deterministic processes induced by harvesting of tree stems for charcoal. Mammal communities, on the other hand, showed subtractive heterogenization (decrease in alpha, but increase in beta diversity) mainly due to random extinctions. In the agriculture frontier of miombo-dominated northern Mozambique, the species richness of trees linearly declined while that of mammals increased up to a fragmentation level of 55-65% and declined above this limit. The beta diversity of trees increased with fragmentation while that of mammals decreased. The results suggest that, although fragmentation reduces species richness of both trees and mammals, it affects their composition in different ways. Trees undergo subtractive heterogenization due to random species losses while mammals experience subtractive homogenisation – reverse of the beta diversity patterns observed in the charcoal frontier.

We concluded that human driven landuse change in the miombo woodlands erodes alpha diversity of all taxonomic groups. However, increases in beta diversity of mammals with charcoal landuse and trees in agricultural landuse may maintain their diversities at the meta-community level. Species losses, thus, do not always mean biotic homogenisation. The variability in beta diversity patterns point out that different land use activities impose dissimilar ecological filters on different taxonomic groups. These finding have implications for future land and biodiversity management in the African Savanna woodlands. For maintaining biodiversity, charcoal production must be regulated and should be more extensive than intensive (expanding in more areas but in lower intensities). In the agriculture frontiers, >30% woodland quantity in less than <75% fragmentation should be maintained to reduce biodiversity losses.

Full talk
ID: 552 / 101RA: 5
101R Trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in dynamic landscapes
Keywords: bioenergy production, food security, deforestation, biodiversity

Trade-offs between bioenergy production, food security and biodiversity in Europe

Mark Rounsevell1,2, Bumsuk Seo1, Heera Lee1, Calum Brown1

1Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Germany; 2University of Edinburgh, UK

The Parliament of the European Union recently voted (January 2018) for higher renewable energy targets in light of the Paris Agreement to limit climate change to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels. Bioenergy, especially with carbon capture and storage (BECCS), has been put forward as one of the major land-based mitigation strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by offsetting fossil fuel use. However, bioenergy production often competes for land used for forest and/or food production causing indirect greenhouse gas emissions through land-use change, increased food prices and potential impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem services. However, the direct and indirect impacts of an increase in bioenergy production have not been fully investigated. In this study, we analyse the impacts of bioenergy production on food production and species richness (as an indicator of biodiversity) across Europe (EU28+2). We do this by analysing stylised scenarios of bioenergy production based on land area changes from 0-20% of the arable land area in Europe for different socio-economic scenarios based on the RCP/SSP framework for 2050 and 2080. The results show that increased bioenergy crop demand will reduce forest area and carbon sequestration under all scenarios. This arises from the conversion of marginal forest areas to agricultural land. Increased bioenergy production may also decrease calorific food consumption in all the scenarios because of increasing food prices unless food imports are also increased. The resulting deforestation will impact on forest species, but benefit agricultural species, especially where second generation bioenergy crops are grown on intensively managed agricultural land. The results emphasise the need for comprehensive modelling efforts to project the impact of bioenergy cropping. The trade-off between bioenergy cropping and afforestation is significant for policy in light of the EUs biomass strategy in response to renewable energy targets.

Flash talk
ID: 637 / 101RA: 6
101R Trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in dynamic landscapes
Keywords: cocoa, land use change, deforestation, biodiversity, ecosystem services

Assessing current and future risk to biodiversity and ecosystem services from cocoa-driven deforestation in the cocoa zone of West Africa

Marieke Sassen1,2, Andy Arnell1, Samantha Hill1,3, Arnout van Soesbergen1,4

1UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC); 2Wageningen University; 3Natural History Museum, London; 4King's College London

Cocoa has historically been an important driver of deforestation in West Africa. Currently about 70% of the global cocoa supply originates from West African smallholder farmers. Cocoa is a major cash earner in producing areas, but falling productivity, population growth and a changing climate, is driving farmers to seek new land for cocoa and other crops, at the expense of remaining forests, biodiversity and the ecosystem services they support. Climate change threatens future cocoa production due to increasing temperatures and variability in rainfall, whilst cocoa-driven deforestation contributes to climate change. Due to the strong interrelationship between the cocoa sector and forest, sustainable cocoa intensification strategies could support national and private sector commitments on deforestation and biodiversity conservation.

We present a spatially explicit approach to help understand and visualise potential trade-offs among cocoa production and forest related biodiversity and ecosystem services at the national scale, and inform sustainable cocoa intensification policy and planning. In this approach, we characterize, map and analyse past impacts and potential future risk to biodiversity and ecosystem services due to cocoa expansion in the West African cocoa zone. We assess how climate change-driven shifts in suitable cocoa growing areas and other factors driving cocoa expansion, might affect important biodiversity and ecosystem services. As maps of actual cocoa cultivation at national scale are not available, we use modelled suitability for cocoa growing in West Africa as a proxy. We use various modelling tools to link measures of biodiversity (a range rarity-based metric species richness, total abundance, compositional similarity and BII) and ecosystem services (carbon, water-related services) to change in land use, under different future cocoa expansion scenarios. Ultimately, we seek to explore the potential for different cocoa management systems (e.g. shaded systems) to help mitigate negative impacts and support biodiversity and ecosystem services at different scales

Flash talk
ID: 863 / 101RA: 7
101R Trade-offs between agriculture and biodiversity in dynamic landscapes
Keywords: Tradeoffs, oil palm, biodiversity, land-use planning, development

Global opportunities and risks for biodiversity from oil palm expansion

John Garcia-Ulloa1, Natalia Ocampo-Penuela1, Paul Richard Furumo2, Andres Etter3

1ETH Zurich, Switzerland; 2University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras, Puerto Rico; 3Pontificia Universidad Javeriana, Colombia

Oil palm expansion has significantly transformed landscapes across the tropics becoming an important social and environmental force. As human population grows and the demand for vegetable oils continues to increase, oil palm expansion will be inevitable occur. This process can bring much needed development to many rural areas in tropical regions, but it can also place at peril many environmental values found in tropical ecosystems, in particular their high biodiversity levels. Our knowledge on the production and conservation tradeoffs associated to oil palm cultivation has significantly increased over the last decade. However, we still lack a global oil palm expansion strategy that minimizes impacts on biodiversity while meeting local and global palm oil demands. Here, we present a framework to identify potential opportunities for oil palm expansion, and the associated risks for biodiversity, in nine countries across the three palm oil producing regions: Africa, Americas and Southeast Asia.

The framework focuses on identifying suitable land for oil palm that could spatially accommodate different types of producers (e.g. large-industrial plantations, small-scale production systems), while minimizing impacts on biodiversity. This spatial analysis combines information on oil palm suitability and current land-use composition and configuration, with species distribution, richness and vulnerability for birds, mammals and reptiles. We use this approach to explore and compare different oil palm expansion trajectories in all nine countries, based on national and global demands of vegetable oil and biofuels.

Overall, we find that potential impacts from oil palm expansion are context specific and vary greatly across countries, depending on the scale of production at the landscape level. We find opportunities for expansion of this industry outside sensible/high value tropical forests and savannas in all countries considered. However, much of these of opportunities are markedly limited to smaller production systems. Our framework provide a systematic method to compare the challenges for conservation and agricultural production that the palm oil industry faces across regions. It also provide elements for international and local stakeholders to discuss the future of palm oil landscapes in the tropics.