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Gardner T.A.,University of Cambridge | Gardner T.A.,International Institute for Sustainability | Von Hase A.,Forest Trends | Brownlie S.,De Villiers Brownlie Associates | And 8 more authors.
Conservation Biology

Businesses, governments, and financial institutions are increasingly adopting a policy of no net loss of biodiversity for development activities. The goal of no net loss is intended to help relieve tension between conservation and development by enabling economic gains to be achieved without concomitant biodiversity losses. biodiversity offsets represent a necessary component of a much broader mitigation strategy for achieving no net loss following prior application of avoidance, minimization, and remediation measures. However, doubts have been raised about the appropriate use of biodiversity offsets. We examined what no net loss means as a desirable conservation outcome and reviewed the conditions that determine whether, and under what circumstances, biodiversity offsets can help achieve such a goal. We propose a conceptual framework to substitute the often ad hoc approaches evident in many biodiversity offset initiatives. The relevance of biodiversity offsets to no net loss rests on 2 fundamental premises. First, offsets are rarely adequate for achieving no net loss of biodiversity alone. Second, some development effects may be too difficult or risky, or even impossible, to offset. To help to deliver no net loss through biodiversity offsets, biodiversity gains must be comparable to losses, be in addition to conservation gains that may have occurred in absence of the offset, and be lasting and protected from risk of failure. Adherence to these conditions requires consideration of the wider landscape context of development and offset activities, timing of offset delivery, measurement of biodiversity, accounting procedures and rule sets used to calculate biodiversity losses and gains and guide offset design, and approaches to managing risk. Adoption of this framework will strengthen the potential for offsets to provide an ecologically defensible mechanism that can help reconcile conservation and development. © 2013 Society for Conservation Biology. Source

Brancalion P.H.S.,University of Sao Paulo | Viani R.A.G.,University of Campinas | Strassburg B.B.N.,International Institute for Sustainability | Rodrigues R.R.,University of Sao Paulo

The article discusses the economic dimension of ecological restoration drawing on experiences in the Brazilian Atlantic forest, which is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet and also one of the richest in endemism. The looming land crisis has been receiving increasing attention worldwide. In this context, forest restoration could be seen as just another factor in the demand for land, with the potential to reduce food production, increase food prices and have other unwanted consequences. Centuries of deforestation and forest degradation have compromised the delivery of ecosystem services and the production of forest goods in the Atlantic forest. Nevertheless, the region presents a huge opportunity for new approaches to ecological restoration and for establishing forest restoration as an economically viable practice. The Atlantic forest has been exploited to the point where it no longer supplies significant quantities of timber. Source

Berenguer E.,Lancaster University | Ferreira J.,Embrapa Amazonia Oriental | Gardner T.A.,University of Cambridge | Gardner T.A.,International Institute for Sustainability | And 9 more authors.
Global Change Biology

Tropical rainforests store enormous amounts of carbon, the protection of which represents a vital component of efforts to mitigate global climate change. Currently, tropical forest conservation, science, policies, and climate mitigation actions focus predominantly on reducing carbon emissions from deforestation alone. However, every year vast areas of the humid tropics are disturbed by selective logging, understory fires, and habitat fragmentation. There is an urgent need to understand the effect of such disturbances on carbon stocks, and how stocks in disturbed forests compare to those found in undisturbed primary forests as well as in regenerating secondary forests. Here, we present the results of the largest field study to date on the impacts of human disturbances on above and belowground carbon stocks in tropical forests. Live vegetation, the largest carbon pool, was extremely sensitive to disturbance: forests that experienced both selective logging and understory fires stored, on average, 40% less aboveground carbon than undisturbed forests and were structurally similar to secondary forests. Edge effects also played an important role in explaining variability in aboveground carbon stocks of disturbed forests. Results indicate a potential rapid recovery of the dead wood and litter carbon pools, while soil stocks (0-30 cm) appeared to be resistant to the effects of logging and fire. Carbon loss and subsequent emissions due to human disturbances remain largely unaccounted for in greenhouse gas inventories, but by comparing our estimates of depleted carbon stocks in disturbed forests with Brazilian government assessments of the total forest area annually disturbed in the Amazon, we show that these emissions could represent up to 40% of the carbon loss from deforestation in the region. We conclude that conservation programs aiming to ensure the long-term permanence of forest carbon stocks, such as REDD+, will remain limited in their success unless they effectively avoid degradation as well as deforestation. © 2014 The Authors. Source

Krolczyk J.B.,Opole University of Technology | Latawiec A.E.,Opole University of Technology | Latawiec A.E.,International Institute for Sustainability | Latawiec A.E.,University of East Anglia | Kubon M.,Agricultural University of Krakow
Polish Journal of Environmental Studies

Poland represents a country with relatively low agricultural productivity but high potential, particularly for certain crops. The aim of our study was to: (i) Show the potential to increase crop yields to sustainable levels of wheat and rapeseed in Poland based on simulations in the Global Agro-Ecological Zones (GAEZ v3.0) model (ii) Show the yield gap for wheat and rapeseed for Poland (iii) Compare yield gaps in Poland with yield gaps of neighbouring counties: Germany, Czech Republic, and Slovakia (iv) Discuss the potential of agricultural productivity increase along with challenges and pragmatic requirements associated with increasing agricultural productivity in Poland To our knowledge, this is the first study that discusses spatially sustainable intensification of agriculture in Poland and critically assesses opportunities pertinent to such intensification. The results show that Polish agriculture can play an important role in contributing to sustainable agricultural productivity increase in a resource-constrained world. The results presented here also demonstrate that yields can even be doubled, yet significant investment and relevant know-how for agriculture must be provided. Source

Malhi Y.,University of Oxford | Gardner T.A.,Stockholm Environment Institute | Gardner T.A.,University of Cambridge | Gardner T.A.,International Institute for Sustainability | And 4 more authors.
Annual Review of Environment and Resources

The Anthropocene is characterized as an epoch when human influence has begun to fundamentally alter many aspects of the Earth system and many of the planet's biomes. Here, we review and synthesize our understanding of Anthropocene changes in tropical forests. Key facets include deforestation driven by agricultural expansion, timber and wood extraction, the loss of fauna that maintain critical ecological connections, the spread of fire, landscape fragmentation, the spread of second-growth forests, new species invasion and pathogen spread, increasing CO2, and climate change. The patterns of change are spatially heterogeneous, are often characterized by strong interactions among different drivers, can have both large-scale and remote effects, and can play out through ecological cascades over long timescales. As a consequence, most tropical forests are on a trajectory to becoming altered ecosystems, with the degree of alteration dependent on the intensity and duration of the current bottleneck of human-induced pressures. We highlight the importance of this understanding to develop the strategies necessary for shaping the transition of tropical forests through the early Anthropocene, as well as highlight the opportunities and challenges for the tropical forest science community in the coming decades. Copyright © 2014 by Annual Reviews. All rights reserved. Source

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