Consequences of delaying the conservation of ecosystem services in remote landscapes prone to natural resource exploitation

Authors: Cimon-Morin, Jérôme; Darveau, Marcel; Poulin, Monique
Abstract: Context : Natural resource extraction is expanding towards increasingly remote areas. Meanwhile, the sustainability of most ecosystem service (ES) supplies, which form a great part of the livelihoods, health and economy of inhabitants in remote regions, is threatened by large-scale land-use changes. Objective : The aim of the study was to assess the consequences of postponing ES conservation planning in remote regions prone to industrial development. More specially, is there a development threshold at which ES conservation may be imperilled. Methods : We simulated eight stages of development using actual data on hydroelectricity generation, forestry and mining expansion. Aiming to protect ten wetland’s ES provision, we assembled referential conservation networks prior to development and several alternative conservation solutions after each stage of development. We compared these networks and assessed the impact of land-use changes on the basic properties of ES conservation networks. Results : We found that conservation network alternative solutions were more costly in terms of additional area needed to achieve all targets: up to 16 % more so, compared to referential networks. Past a certain stage of development, alternative solutions were composed of a significantly greater proportion of small sites and, consequently, the networks became much more fragmented. Development also changed the spatial configuration of networks: up to 66 % of the sites included in alternative solutions were not selected in the referential networks. Conclusions : According to current trends, future development will strongly compete with ES conservation. Our study emphasizes the importance of implementing ES conservation actions before development, even in remote regions.
Document Type: Article de recherche
Issue Date: 20 March 2016
Open Access Date: 20 March 2017
Document version: AM
This document was published in: Landscape Ecology, Vol. 31 (4), 825-842 (2016)
Alternative version: 10.1007%2Fs10980-015-0291-4
Collection:Articles publiés dans des revues avec comité de lecture

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