OOS 4-5 - Global comparisons of anthropogenic threats to conservation of grass-shrub and forest vegetation

Monday, August 8, 2011: 2:50 PM
14, Austin Convention Center
Kurt Riitters1, James D. Wickham2, Timothy G. Wade2 and Peter Vogt3, (1)Southern Research Station, USDA Forest Service, Research Triangle Park, NC, (2)Office of Research and Development, US Environmental Protection Agency, Research Triangle Park, NC, (3)Institute for Environment and Sustainability, European Commission – Joint Research Centre, Italy

The conservation value of natural vegetation is degraded by proximity to anthropogenic land uses.  Previous global assessments focused primarily on the amount of land protected or converted to anthropogenic uses, and on forest vegetation.  Comparative assessments of extant vegetation in terms of proximity to anthropogenic land uses are needed to better inform conservation planning.  Using a global land-cover map, we conducted a survey of forest and grass-shrub vegetation at risk of degradation owing to proximity of anthropogenic land uses.  Threats were classified according to direct adjacency with anthropogenic land-cover (adjacency risk), occurrence in anthropogenic neighborhoods (neighborhood risk), or both (combined risk).  The survey results were summarized by ecoregions and biomes.


Adjacency risk threatens 22 percent of global grass-shrub and 12 percent of forest vegetation, contributing to combined risk which threatens 31 percent of grass-shrub and 20 percent of forest vegetation.  Of 743 ecoregions examined, adjacency risk threatens at least 50 percent of grass-shrub vegetation in 224 ecoregions compared to only 124 ecoregions for forest.  The conservation threats posed by proximity to anthropogenic land-cover are higher for grass-shrub vegetation than for forest vegetation.

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