Biodiversity loss is a global crisis threatening human wellbeing, and the main driver is how we use land. Decisions about land use are made in social-ecological systems, yet conservation science is currently ill-equipped to consider the complex and dynamic interactions between land-use actors and their environment. This translates into conservation failures and missed opportunities. My overarching goal is to develop new, interdisciplinary concepts and approaches that enable a different, social-ecological perspective on land use in conservation. This promises major breakthroughs in our understanding of threats to biodiversity and how to design effective conservation strategies. My project will be organized in three main steps. STEP 1 will develop novel concepts to identify key combinations of land-use actors, practices, and threats to biodiversity, and organize them into a systems typology for conservation. This step will also design innovative indicators to map how threats vary and interact in space and time. I will apply and test these concepts globally, for the poorly studied tropical dry forests. STEP 2 will empirically validate these concepts for two tropical dry forests regions in South America. Comparative social-ecological fieldwork will reveal how threats impact biodiversity, how land-use actors relate to threats, and how conservation actions influence actors. This will enable a major advance in conservation planning methods to consider land-use actors, dynamic threats, and to rigorously evaluate when, where, and at which scale conservation is most effective. STEP 3 will integrate the project results to provide generalized insights into conservation challenges and opportunities in tropical dry forests globally. My project will cross-fertilise between land system science and conservation science and link to international science-policy dialogues, laying the foundation for a new research agenda integrating complex land systems into biodiversity conservation.
Fields of science
Call for proposal
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