Land2014, 3(3), 917-940; doi:10.3390/land3030917 (doi registration under processing) - published online 31 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: In a modeling study we examine vulnerability of income from mobile (transhumant) pastoralism and sedentary pastoralism to reduced mean annual precipitation (MAP) and droughts. The study is based on empirical data of a 3410 km2 research region in southern, semi-arid Morocco. The land use decision model integrates a meta-model of the Environmental Policy Integrated Climate (EPIC) simulator to depict perennial and annual forage plant development. It also includes livestock dynamics and forward-looking decision making under uncertain weather. Mobile livestock in the model moves seasonally, sedentary livestock is restricted to pastures around settlements. For a reduction of MAP by 20%, our model shows for different experimental frequencies of droughts a significant decrease of total income from pastoralism by 8%–19% (p < 0.05). Looking separately at the two modes of pastoralism, pronounced income losses of 18%–44% (p < 0.05) show that sedentary pastoralism is much more vulnerable to dryer climate than mobile pastoralism, which is merely affected. Dedicating more pasture area and high quality fodder to mobile pastoralism significantly abates impacts from reduced MAP and droughts on total income by 11% (p < 0.05). Our results indicate that promotion of mobile pastoralism in semi-arid areas is a valuable option to increase resilience against climate change.
Land2014, 3(3), 898-916; doi:10.3390/land3030898 - published online 25 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Climate change and agriculture influence each other. The effects of climate change on agriculture seem to be predominantly negative, although studies show a large variation in impacts between crops and regions. To compensate for these effects, agriculture can either intensify or expand in area; both of these options increase greenhouse gas emissions. It is therefore likely that such negative effects will increase agriculture’s contribution to climate change, making this feedback a positive, self-reinforcing one. We have previously used a data-driven model to examine greenhouse gas emissions in 2050 related to agricultural scenarios of increasing demand for food. Here, we extend this approach by introducing the impacts of climate change on agricultural yields. We estimate the additional losses of natural habitats and increases in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from agricultural expansion and relocation induced by the negative effects of climate change. We studied two climate change scenarios and different assumptions about trade. These additional impacts caused by climate change are found to be relatively moderate compared to demand-driven impact, but still significant. They increase greenhouse gas emissions from land use change by an additional 8%–13%. Climate change tends to aggravate the effects of demand drivers in critical regions. Current emission scenarios are underestimates in that they do not include these feedback effects.
Land2014, 3(3), 874-897; doi:10.3390/land3030874 - published online 24 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Land cover modeling is used to inform land management, but most often via a two-step process, where science informs how management alternatives can influence resources, and then, decision makers can use this information to make decisions. A more efficient process is to directly integrate science and decision-making, where science allows us to learn in order to better accomplish management objectives and is developed to address specific decisions. Co-development of management and science is especially productive when decisions are complicated by multiple objectives and impeded by uncertainty. Multiple objectives can be met by the specification of tradeoffs, and relevant uncertainty can be addressed through targeted science (i.e., models and monitoring). We describe how to integrate habitat and fuel monitoring with decision-making focused on the dual objectives of managing for endangered species and minimizing catastrophic fire risk. Under certain conditions, both objectives might be achieved by a similar management policy; other conditions require tradeoffs between objectives. Knowledge about system responses to actions can be informed by developing hypotheses based on ideas about fire behavior and then applying competing management actions to different land units in the same system state. Monitoring and management integration is important to optimize state-specific management decisions and to increase knowledge about system responses. We believe this approach has broad utility and identifies a clear role for land cover modeling programs intended to inform decision-making.
Land2014, 3(3), 850-873; doi:10.3390/land3030850 - published online 23 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Land use patterns are the consequence of dynamic processes that often include important legacy issues. Evaluation of past trends can be used to investigate the role of path dependence in influencing future land use through a reference “business as usual” (BAU) scenario. These issues are explored with regard to objectives for woodland expansion in Scotland as a major pillar of climate change policy. Land use changes based upon recent trends and future transient scenarios to 2050 are used to assess viability of targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions using analysis based on net emission change factors. The BAU scenario is compared with alternative future scenarios incorporating policy targets and stronger spatial targeting of land use change. Analysis highlights recent trends in new woodland planting on lower quality agricultural land due to socioeconomic and cultural factors. This land is mainly in the wetter uplands and often on carbon-rich soils. Woodland planting following this path dependence can therefore result in net carbon emissions for many years into the future due to soil disturbance during establishment. In contrast, alternative scenarios with more lowland woodland planting have net sequestration potential, with greatest benefits when carbon-rich soils are excluded from afforestation. Spatial targeting can also enhance other co-benefits such as habitat networks and climate change adaptation.
Land2014, 3(3), 834-849; doi:10.3390/land3030834 - published online 23 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Conservation thinking will benefit from the incorporation of a resilience perspective of landscapes as social-ecological systems that are continually changing due to both internal dynamics and in response to external factors such as a changing climate. The examination of two valley oak stands in Southern California provides an example of the necessity of this systems perspective where each stand is responding differently as a result of interactions with other parts of the landscape. One stand is experiencing regeneration failure similar to other stands across the state, and is exhibiting shifts in spatial pattern as a response to changing conditions. A nearby stand is regenerating well and maintaining spatial and structural patterns, likely due to the availability of imported water associated with upstream urban development. Valley oak stands have a capacity for reorganization as a response to changes in the landscape and environmental conditions. This reorganization can benefit conservation efforts; however, we must ask what limits there are to valley oak’s capacity to reorganize and still maintain its ecological function in face of increasing changes in climate and land cover. The usefulness of resilience as a concept in conservation is discussed at several scales from the stand to the landscape.
Land2014, 3(3), 793-833; doi:10.3390/land3030793 - published online 22 July 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: International agreements on climate change have highlighted the role of land in climate and human dynamics, making it an issue of global importance. The modelling of land-related processes, sectors, and activities has recently become a central topic in economic and policy theory, as well as within environmental sciences. Modelling strategies have been improved and new datasets have come into light for land-cover and land-use change analysis. However, unexpected human behavior and natural constraints challenge the modelling of interdependences and feedback mechanisms amongst economies, societies, and the environment, resulting from land-use and cover change. This paper provides a detailed overview of the most representative and advanced methods and models developed to represent climate–human–land interactions. It offers a critical discussion about relevant methodological aspects, missing knowledge, and areas for future research.