Spatial patterns show tension between land conservation and livelihood needs

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Spatial patterns show tension between land conservation and livelihood needs
There are clear spatial patterns showing where tensions may arise between land conservation and the subsistence needs of inhabitants. That is the conclusion of a new publication in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), authored by environmental scientist Camille Venier-Cambron.

In order to meet global biodiversity targets, large areas of land around the world must be restored to nature. However, the spatial models used to determine which areas are most suitable for conservation and restoration do not always include the livelihood needs of people who depend on such landscapes.

Systematic approach

In the paper , Venier-Cambron and her fellow researchers present a systematic approach to identifying areas of potential tension between global conservation goals and land-dependent communities. In addition, they offer a method for measuring the outcomes of different land use planning options in terms of equity.

Burden sharing

There are clear spatial patterns for where tensions may arise between local subsistence needs and global biodiversity goals, with hotspots emerging throughout tropical regions - primarily in Sub Saharan Africa and Asia. The results of the study suggest that many leading global conservation planning efforts do not sufficiently consider concerns about equitable burden sharing. More explicit consideration of land use needs in conservation planning is necessary to help ensure more equitable environmental governance.

Not ’nature versus development’

’Our findings should not be interpreted in terms of a ’nature versus development’ dichotomy,’ says Venier-Cambron. Much harm would be generated by failing to restore biodiversity, particularly for communities who rely on ecosystem function and local natural resources for their livelihoods and wellbeing. Rather, we highlight the fact that accounting for differentiated societal land use needs in global conservation agendas is necessary to optimize both social and environmental outcomes, and develop more equitable pathways towards sustainability.’

PNAS publication

’Avoiding an unjust transition to sustainability: An equity metric for spatial conservation planning’ was published in PNAS. Venier-Cambron is a PhD candidate at the Institute for Environmental Studies. For her current research, she uses exploratory scenario modelling to identify land use strategies that can help us meet our environmental goals while also respecting the land rights of smallholders and other land-dependent communities.