Biophysical suitability, economic pressure and land-cover change: a global probabilistic approach and insights for REDD+

Strassburg, Bernardo B N, Latawiec, Agnieszka E, Creed, Anna, Nguyen, Nga, Sunnenberg, Gilla, Miles, Lera, Lovett, Andrew, Joppa, Lucas, Ashton, Ralph, Scharlemann, Jörn P W, Cronenberger, Felipe and Iribarrem, Alvaro (2014) Biophysical suitability, economic pressure and land-cover change: a global probabilistic approach and insights for REDD+. Sustainability Science, 9 (2). pp. 129-141. ISSN 1862-4065

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Abstract

There has been a concerted effort by the international scientific community to understand the multiple causes and patterns of land-cover change to support sustainable land management. Here, we examined biophysical suitability, and a novel integrated index of “Economic Pressure on Land” (EPL) to explain land cover in the year 2000, and estimated the likelihood of future land-cover change through 2050, including protected area effectiveness. Biophysical suitability and EPL explained almost half of the global pattern of land cover (R 2 = 0.45), increasing to almost two-thirds in areas where a long-term equilibrium is likely to have been reached (e.g. R 2 = 0.64 in Europe). We identify a high likelihood of future land-cover change in vast areas with relatively lower current and past deforestation (e.g. the Congo Basin). Further, we simulated emissions arising from a “business as usual” and two reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD) scenarios by incorporating data on biomass carbon. As our model incorporates all biome types, it highlights a crucial aspect of the ongoing REDD + debate: if restricted to forests, “cross-biome leakage” would severely reduce REDD + effectiveness for climate change mitigation. If forests were protected from deforestation yet without measures to tackle the drivers of land-cover change, REDD + would only reduce 30 % of total emissions from land-cover change. Fifty-five percent of emissions reductions from forests would be compensated by increased emissions in other biomes. These results suggest that, although REDD + remains a very promising mitigation tool, implementation of complementary measures to reduce land demand is necessary to prevent this leakage.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Life Sciences > Evolution, Behaviour and Environment
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences > GE170 Environmental policy
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labour > HD0101 Land use
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH0001 Natural history (General) > QH0075 Nature conservation
Depositing User: Jorn Scharlemann
Date Deposited: 02 Jul 2013 12:48
Last Modified: 12 Mar 2017 21:55
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/44802

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