Reconciling biodiversity and carbon conservation

Thomas, Chris D., Anderson, Barbara, Moilanen, Atte, Eigenbrod, Felix, Heinemeyer, Andreas, Quaife, Tristan, Roy, David B., Gillings, Simon, Armsworth, Paul R., and Gaston, Kevin J. (2013) Reconciling biodiversity and carbon conservation. Ecology Letters, 16 (S1). pp. 39-47.

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Abstract

Climate change is leading to the development of land-based mitigation and adaptation strategies that are likely to have substantial impacts on global biodiversity. Of these, approaches to maintain carbon within existing natural ecosystems could have particularly large benefits for biodiversity. However, the geographical distributions of terrestrial carbon stocks and biodiversity differ. Using conservation planning analyses for the New World and Britain, we conclude that a carbon-only strategy would not be effective at conserving biodiversity, as have previous studies. Nonetheless, we find that a combined carbon-biodiversity strategy could simultaneously protect 90% of carbon stocks (relative to a carbon-only conservation strategy) and >90% of the biodiversity (relative to a biodiversity-only strategy) in both regions. This combined approach encapsulates the principle of complementarity, whereby locations that contain different sets of species are prioritised, and hence disproportionately safeguard localised species that are not protected effectively by carbon-only strategies. It is efficient because localised species are concentrated into small parts of the terrestrial land surface, whereas carbon is somewhat more evenly distributed; and carbon stocks protected in one location are equivalent to those protected elsewhere. Efficient compromises can only be achieved when biodiversity and carbon are incorporated together within a spatial planning process.

Item ID: 28752
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: adaptation, biodiversity, carbon, climate change, conservation, extinction, global, protected areas, REDD, spatial planning
ISSN: 1461-0248
Funders: UK Population Biology Network, Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award, Academy of Finland, Finnish Centre of Excellence Programme 2006–2011, ERC-StG grant
Projects and Grants: Academy of Finland (grants 213457 and 129636), GEDA (ERC-StG grant #260393)
Date Deposited: 07 Aug 2013 05:36
FoR Codes: 05 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 0502 Environmental Science and Management > 050202 Conservation and Biodiversity @ 50%
06 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 0602 Ecology > 060208 Terrestrial Ecology @ 50%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970105 Expanding Knowledge in the Environmental Sciences @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970106 Expanding Knowledge in the Biological Sciences @ 50%
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