Carbon stock corridors to mitigate climate change and promote biodiversity in the tropics

Abstract

A key issue in global conservation is how biodiversity co-benefits can be incorporated into land use and climate change mitigation activities, particularly those being negotiated under the United Nations to reduce emissions from tropical deforestation and forest degradation1,2. Protected areas have been the dominant strategy for tropical forest conservation and they have increased substantially in recent decades3. Avoiding deforestation by preserving carbon stored in vegetation between protected areas provides an opportunity to mitigate the effects of land use and climate change on biodiversity by maintaining habitat connectivity across landscapes. Here we use a high-resolution data set of vegetation carbon stock to map corridors traversing areas of highest biomass between protected areas in the tropics. The derived corridors contain 15% of the total unprotected aboveground carbon in the tropical region. A large number of corridors have carbon densities that approach or exceed those of the protected areas they connect, suggesting these are suitable areas for achieving both habitat connectivity and climate change mitigation benefits. To further illustrate how economic and biological information can be used for corridor prioritization on a regional scale, we conducted a multicriteria analysis of corridors in the Legal Amazon, identifying corridors with high carbon, high species richness and endemism, and low economic opportunity costs. We also assessed the vulnerability of corridors to future deforestation threat.

Access options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

Figure 1: Corridors passing through the densest VCS between protected areas.
Figure 2: Kernel density scatter plots of the relationship between carbon density of anchoring protected areas and carbon density in corridors.
Figure 3: Multicriteria scoring of corridors in the Brazilian Amazon across three dimensions: carbon density, mammalian biodiversity and deforestation threat.

References

  1. 1

    Houghton, R. et al. The role of science in reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD). Carbon Manag. 1, 253–259 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  2. 2

    Stickler, C. M. et al. The potential ecological costs and cobenefits of REDD: A critical review and case study from the Amazon region. Glob. Change Biol. 15, 2803–2824 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  3. 3

    Jenkins, C. N. & Joppa, L. Expansion of the global terrestrial protected area system. Biol. Conserv. 142, 2166–2174 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  4. 4

    Hansen, M. C. et al. High-resolution global maps of 21st-century forest cover change. Science 342, 850–853 (2013).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  5. 5

    Hansen, M. C., Stehman, S. V & Potapov, P. V. Quantification of global gross forest cover loss. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 107, 8650–8655 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  6. 6

    Baccini, A. et al. Estimated carbon dioxide emissions from tropical deforestation improved by carbon-density maps. Nature Clim. Change 2, 182–185 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  7. 7

    Laurance, W. F. et al. Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas. Nature 489, 290–294 (2012).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. 8

    Hansen, A. & DeFries, R. Ecological mechanisms linking protected areas to surrounding lands. Ecol. Appl. 17, 974–988 (2007).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. 9

    DeFries, R., Hansen, A., Newton, A. & Hansen, M. Increasing isolation of protected areas in tropical forests over the past twenty years. Ecol. Appl. 15, 19–26 (2005).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  10. 10

    Nepstad, D. et al. The end of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. Science 326, 1350–1351 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  11. 11

    Balmford, A., Gaston, K. J., Blyth, S., James, A. & Kapos, V. Global variation in terrestrial conservation costs, conservation benefits, and unmet conservation needs. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 100, 1046–1050 (2003).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. 12

    UNFCCC. Report of the Conf of the Parties on its 16th Session (2011). http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2010/cop16/eng/07a01.pdf

  13. 13

    Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and C. for I. E. S. I. N. (CIESIN)/Columbia U. Last of the Wild Project, Version 2, 2005 (LWP-2): Global Human Footprint Dataset (Geographic) (2005). http://sedac.ciesin.columbia.edu/data/set/wildareas-v2-human-footprint-geographic

  14. 14

    Soares-Filho, B. S. et al. Modelling conservation in the Amazon basin. Nature 440, 520–523 (2006).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  15. 15

    Saatchi, S. S. et al. Benchmark map of forest carbon stocks in tropical regions across three continents. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 108, 9899–9904 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. 16

    Hwang, C. L. & Yoon, K. Multiple Attribute Decision Making: Methods and Applications 259 (Springer, (1981).

    Google Scholar 

  17. 17

    Kerr, J. Species richness, endemism, and the choice of areas for conservation. Conserv. Biol. 11, 1094–1100 (1997).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  18. 18

    Rosenthal, A., Stutzman, H. & Forsyth, A. Creating mosaic-based conservation corridors to respond to major threats in the Amazon headwaters. Ecol. Restor. 30, 296–299 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  19. 19

    Bennett, A. Linkages in the Landscape: The Role of Corridors and Connectivity in Wildlife Conservation (IUCN, 1999)

  20. 20

    Yanai, A. M., Fearnside, P. M., Graça, P. M. L. D. A. & Nogueira, E. M. Avoided deforestation in Brazilian Amazonia: Simulating the effect of the Juma sustainable development reserve. For. Ecol. Manage. 282, 78–91 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. 21

    Persha, L., Agrawal, A. & Chhatre, A. Social and ecological synergy: Local rulemaking, forest livelihoods, and biodiversity conservation. Science 331, 1606–1608 (2011).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  22. 22

    Chhatre, A. & Agrawal, A. Trade-offs and synergies between carbon storage and livelihood benefits from forest commons. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 106, 17667–17670 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. 23

    Soares-Filho, B. et al. Role of Brazilian Amazon protected areas in climate change mitigation. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 107, 10821–10826 (2010).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  24. 24

    Börner, J. et al. Direct conservation payments in the Brazilian Amazon: Scope and equity implications. Ecol. Econ. 69, 1272–1282 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. 25

    Laurance, W. F. et al. The fate of Amazonian forest fragments: A 32-year investigation. Biol. Conserv. 144, 56–67 (2011).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. 26

    Brodie, J., Post, E. & Laurance, W. F. Climate change and tropical biodiversity: A new focus. Trends Ecol. Evol. 27, 145–150 (2012).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  27. 27

    IUCN and UNEP. The World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA) (2010). www.protectedplanet.net

  28. 28

    Dale, M. R. T. & Fortin, M-J. From graphs to spatial graphs. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 41, 21–38 (2010).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  29. 29

    Pinto, N. & Keitt, T. H. Beyond the least-cost path: Evaluating corridor redundancy using a graph-theoretic approach. Landsc. Ecol. 24, 253–266 (2009).

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. 30

    Kier, G. et al. A global assessment of endemism and species richness across island and mainland regions. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 106, 9322–9327 (2009).

    CAS  Article  Google Scholar 

  31. 31

    IUCN. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1 (2010). http://www.iucnredlist.org

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank A. Baccini for sharing data on VCS, T. Cormier for assistance generating species richness layers, B-S. Filho for sharing EOC data and B. McRae for access to connectivity modelling code. This work was financially supported by the NASA Applied Sciences programme, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Packard Foundation and the Google.org Foundation.

Author information

Authors

Contributions

S.G. and P.J. designed the study. P.J. conducted the analysis. P.J., S.G. and N.L. wrote the paper.

Ethics declarations

Competing interests

The authors declare no competing financial interests.

Supplementary information

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Jantz, P., Goetz, S. & Laporte, N. Carbon stock corridors to mitigate climate change and promote biodiversity in the tropics. Nature Clim Change 4, 138–142 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1038/nclimate2105

Download citation

Further reading