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Sci Adv. 2016 Jul 1;2(7):e1501021. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1501021. eCollection 2016 Jul.

Bigger is better: Improved nature conservation and economic returns from landscape-level mitigation.

Author information

1
Global Conservation Lands Program, The Nature Conservancy, Fort Collins, CO 80524, USA.
2
Global Conservation Lands Program, The Nature Conservancy, Arlington, VA 22203, USA.
3
Brazil Program, The Nature Conservancy, SIG Qd. 01, Lt. 985-1005, Sala 206, Brasília/DF 70610-410, Brazil.
4
Natural Capital Project and Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota, 325 Learning and Environmental Sciences, 1954 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.
5
Natural Capital Project and Institute on the Environment, University of Minnesota, 325 Learning and Environmental Sciences, 1954 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.; Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, 1994 Buford Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55112, USA.
6
EHS and Sustainability, The Dow Chemical Company, Philadelphia, PA 19106, USA.

Abstract

Impact mitigation is a primary mechanism on which countries rely to reduce environmental externalities and balance development with conservation. Mitigation policies are transitioning from traditional project-by-project planning to landscape-level planning. Although this larger-scale approach is expected to provide greater conservation benefits at the lowest cost, empirical justification is still scarce. Using commercial sugarcane expansion in the Brazilian Cerrado as a case study, we apply economic and biophysical steady-state models to quantify the benefits of the Brazilian Forest Code (FC) under landscape- and property-level planning. We find that FC compliance imposes small costs to business but can generate significant long-term benefits to nature: supporting 32 (±37) additional species (largely habitat specialists), storing 593,000 to 2,280,000 additional tons of carbon worth $69 million to $265 million ($ pertains to U.S. dollars), and marginally improving surface water quality. Relative to property-level compliance, we find that landscape-level compliance reduces total business costs by $19 million to $35 million per 6-year sugarcane growing cycle while often supporting more species and storing more carbon. Our results demonstrate that landscape-level mitigation provides cost-effective conservation and can be used to promote sustainable development.

KEYWORDS:

Impact mitigation; agricultural expansion; biodiversity; ecosystem services; land-use planning; land-use policy; landscape conservation

PMID:
27419225
PMCID:
PMC4942327
DOI:
10.1126/sciadv.1501021
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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