Land use and infrastructure for balancing conservation goals with development needs
Urbanization, a distinguishing characteristic of the current times, is creating demands on rural landscapes for food, water, and other ecosystem services to improve human well-being in cities and towns. Infrastructure and land use changes are critical for economic development in emerging economies where urbanization is rapid. Scientific approaches are needed to identify critical locations for conservation and alternatives for land uses that minimize negative impacts on conservation.
Infrastructure development in central India, an important habitat for tigers and other endangered species, serves as an example of how conservationists can provide input on realistic land use options based on connectivity modeling and scenario building. Linear features such as roads and rails, as well as mines, settlements and human dominated agricultural landscapes create resistance to animal movements. Models can help identify locations and mitigation measures that are most critical to maintain connectivity without restricting development. The most difficult challenge is integrating such approaches into policy decisions.