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Using Land Cover Change Models to Address Important Conservation Issues

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - LCCMcons (Using Land Cover Change Models to Address Important Conservation Issues)

Reporting period: 2016-05-01 to 2018-04-30

Land use and land cover change driven by rapid human population growth and increasing demand for agricultural is a huge environmental risk. Tools, such as models and scenarios, that allow policy-makers and landscape managers to visualize and understand the impact of their decisions, prior to its implementation, are of the utmost importance. In this project, a spatially-explicit land cover change model was adapted and used to illustrate the usefulness of these tools in supporting policy- and decision-makers in addressing a range of conservations challenges. Particularly, I analysed historical trends in land cover change at several spatial scales, and how it varied inside and outside protected areas; I assessed the impact of planned infrastructure in the forests of Colombia; and the likelihood of multiple forest cover transitions in the Atlantic Forest to help direct conservation and restoration programmes. Further, by means of a large collaborative work under the Intergovernmental Science Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), I led the paper with the framework for the next-generation scenarios for IPBES; and subsequently, co-developed the protocol for comparing scenarios produced by multiple biodiversity and ecosystem services models when projecting changes under alternative human pathways of development. Finally, I also used these tools to simulate future land use change in Portugal as a result of following two alternative sustainable pathways of development. With the research performed during these two years I elevated my profile in the field of scenario development and analysis, by not only strengthening my capacity as a land use and land cover change modeler, but also gaining strong skills in associated disciplines such as biodiversity and ecosystem services modeling.
At the end of the two years of this fellowship, I have published three papers:

• Bradley, A.V. Rosa, I., Brandão Jr., A., Crema, S., Moulds, S., Ahmed, S., Carneiro, T., Smith, M.J. Ewers, R. M. 2017. A retrospective ensemble of land-cover models to measure impacts of policy intervention on land-cover change. Modelling Earth Systems and Environmental Change.
• Rosa, I., Pereira, H., Ferrier, S., et al. 2017. Multi-Scale Scenarios for Nature Futures. Nature Ecology and Evolution 1: 1416-1419.
• Rosa I., Gabriel, C., Carreiras, J. 2017. Spatial and temporal dimensions of landscape fragmentation across the Brazilian Amazon. Regional Environmental Change 17: 1687-1699.

And have another four papers currently under review:
• Gough, L., Rosa I., Gill, R. under review in PLOS One. Approach to modelling projections of cropland emergence across Great Britain.
• Kim, H., Rosa, I., et al. under review in Geoscientific Model Development. A protocol for an intercomparison of biodiversity and ecosystem services models using harmonized land-use and climate scenarios.
• Guerra, C. and Rosa, I. under review in Conservation Biology. Change vs Stability: are protected areas particularly pressured by global land cover change?
• Rosa, I., Rentsch, D., Hopcraft, G. under review in Landscape Ecology. Effectiveness of different management areas in preventing forest loss.

Apart from these publications, there are a few others being prepared for submission, but these will be submitted in the period post-fellowship. Furthermore, I attended one international conference (TAWIRI 2017 in Tanzania), two national conferences (iDiv annual conference), and several meetings and workshops (particularly related to the work on scenarios development for IPBES). I will continue my research career at the Biodiversity Conservation group at iDiv.
My involvement in the activities of IPBES was greater than I had previously anticipated but it allowed this fellowship to have a greater impact both personally and professionally. Personally, it allowed me to extend immensely my research network and favored new collaborations that I am looking forward to continue in the future. Professionally, it allowed my research to have a direct impact. I helped design the strategy for the next generation of scenarios for IPBES, which is being adopted and implemented and the goal is to incorporate this knowledge into the discussions at the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to be considered in the development of conservation targets post-Aichi and contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals. Further, a proposal was submitted to Biodiversa/Belmont Forum to seek funding for this long-term vision to produce scenarios centered around human relationship with nature. This is something I found particularly exciting and that I feel it can have important societal impacts by raising awareness of how this relationship shapes the landscapes worldwide impacting biodiversity, ecosystem services and local communities. In conclusion, this fellowship contributed to my development.