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National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis

Project Description

There are tradeoffs and synergies between biodiversity conservation, ecosystem services, and economic productivity that are not usually considered when decisions are made about land use or investments in land protection or policy. Overlooking such tradeoffs often results in low return-on-investment for conservation expenditures and unintended consequences of policy decisions. This project will develop and apply spatially explicit, integrated models of land-use change, habitat for biodiversity, ecosystem service provision and economic productivity in up to five decision contexts in Brazil and the United States. In Brazil, the project has identified pathways to implementation that would help inform the Amazon Region Protected Areas program, certification initiatives regarding Brazil’s forest code, and policies to guide agricultural development in the Brazilian Pantanal. In the U.S., they have identified pathways to implementation in agricultural policy in the Northern Great Plains and the Sage Grouse Initiative. By simultaneously considering multiple objectives and alternative spatial arrangements of land use, we will chart a path towards maximizing benefits for both human well-being and nature conservation. This project will build off of existing land-use change models developed by working group members in both the U.S. and Brazil, and use these models to evaluate alternative scenarios and optimize conservation investments in specific decision-making contexts in both countries. A distinguishing feature from the U.S. models is the explicit incorporation of net economic returns to land for alternative land-uses (crops, forestry, urban, pasture) as a driver of land-use change. In addition, the will incorporate price feedback effects from large-scale land-use changes to account for the fact that such changes (e.g., from forest to crops) will likely shift the supply of key commodities and therefore shift both commodity prices and net economic returns to land. Dollar measures of net returns to land and price feedbacks from land-use changes are not typically incorporated in geographically-based methods. Further, the project will link the land-use change model with ecosystem service provision models (including carbon storage, water provision, water quality, non-timber forest products) as well as habitat for biodiversity.
Working Group Participants

Principal Investigator(s)

Stephen Polasky, Carlos C. Durigan, Joseph E. Fargione, Derric Pennington, Andrew Plantinga

Project Dates

Start: December 8, 2014

End: December 15, 2017



Mario Barroso
World Wildlife Fund, Brazil
Leandro Baumgarten
The Nature Conservancy
Gilberto Camara
Centro de Previsão de Tempo e Estudos Climáticos (CPTEC/INPE)
Michael T. Coe
Woods Hole Research Center
Carlos C. Durigan
Wildlife Conservation Society
Don Eaton
Wildlife Conservation Society Brazil
Joseph E. Fargione
The Nature Conservancy
Kate Helmstedt
University of California, Berkeley
Justin Johnson
University of Minnesota
Alexine Keuroghlian
Wildlife Conservation Society Brazil
Ashley E. Larsen
University of California, Berkeley
Joshua J. Lawler
University of Washington
David Lewis
Oregon State University
Ruben Lubowski
Environmental Defense Fund
Sebastián Martinuzzi
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Aline Mosnier
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
David E. Naugle
University of Montana
Erik Nelson
Bowdoin College
Michael Obersteiner
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Edegar Oliveira
World Wildlife Fund, Brazil
Derric Pennington
World Wildlife Fund
Andrew Plantinga
University of California, Santa Barbara
Stephen Polasky
University of Minnesota
Volker Radeloff
University of Wisconsin, Madison
Fernando Ramos
Centro de Previsão de Tempo e Estudos Climáticos (CPTEC/INPE)
Claire Runge
University of California, Santa Barbara
Brian Stenquist
Meeting Challenges
Meg Symington
World Wildlife Fund
John Withey
Florida International University
Alexandre X Ywata Carvalho
Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA)


  1. Journal Article / 2018

    Comparative terrestrial feed and land use of an aquaculture-dominant world

  2. Journal Article / 2018

    Unintended habitat loss on private land from grazing restrictions on public rangelands

  3. Journal Article / 2019

    Single species conservation as an umbrella for management of landscape threats

  4. Journal Article / 2019

    Expanding the Soy Moratorium to Brazil's Cerrado

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