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Scenario Analysis to Identify Viable Conservation Strategies in Paraguay’s Imperiled Atlantic Forest

Matthew J. Carlson, ALCES Group
Ross Mitchell, Environmental Resources Management
Laura Rodriguez, Fundacíon Moisés Bertoni

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04267-160308

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Abstract

A common challenge facing land use planning is assessment of the future performance of land use options. The challenge can be acute in developing regions where land use is expanding rapidly and funding and data needed for planning are scarce. To inform land use planning for a biosphere reserve located in Paraguay’s Atlantic forest region, a scenario analysis explored the relative merits of conventional and conservation agricultural practices, sustained yield forestry, and protection. Simulations compared the long-term impacts on land cover, biotic carbon, and income of the area’s residents. Ecological and economic decline were projected under conventional practices. Protection and forestry scenarios achieved only small relative improvements to ecological indicators at the cost of reduced economic performance. By addressing the underlying issue of land degradation, conservation agriculture including no-tillage was the most successful land use strategy both ecologically and economically. Identification of conservation agriculture as the most promising land use strategy prioritizes issues that must be addressed to achieve sustainability, most importantly the provision of education and funding to smallholder farmers. We conclude that scenario analysis offers a flexible strategy to integrate available data for the purpose of informing land use planning in data-limited regions such as Paraguay’s Atlantic forest.

Key words

Atlantic forest; conservation agriculture; deforestation; land use planning; Paraguay; scenario analysis; simulation
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087