Spatial planning for a green economy: National-level hydrologic ecosystem services priority areas for Gabon

Goldstein, Joshua Howard; Tallis, Heather; Cole, Aaron; Schill, Steven; Martin, Erik; Heiner, Michael; Paiz, Marie-Claire; Aldous, Allison; Apse, Colin; Nickel, Barry
Publisher N/A
SourceWeb of Science
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Tagsecosystems; Gabon; water resources; biodiversity; erosion; conservation science; forests; forestry
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Publication DateJune 08, 2017
Article Datee0179008
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AbstractRapidly developing countries contain both the bulk of intact natural areas and biodiversity, and the greatest untapped natural resource stocks, placing them at the forefront of “green” economic development opportunities. However, most lack scientific tools to create development plans that account for biodiversity and ecosystem services, diminishing the real potential to be sustainable. Existing methods focus on biodiversity and carbon priority areas across large geographies (e.g., countries, states/provinces), leaving out essential services associated with water supplies, among others. These hydrologic ecosystem services (HES) are especially absent from methods applied at large geographies and in data-limited contexts. Here, we present a novel, spatially explicit, and relatively simple methodology to identify countrywide HES priority areas. We applied our methodology to the Gabonese Republic, a country undergoing a major economic transformation under a governmental commitment to balance conservation and development goals. We present the first national-scale maps of HES priority areas across Gabon for erosion control, nutrient retention, and groundwater recharge. Priority sub-watersheds covered 44% of the country’s extent. Only 3% of the country was identified as a priority area for all HES simultaneously, highlighting the need to conserve different areas for each different hydrologic service. While spatial tradeoffs occur amongst HES, we identified synergies with two other conservation values, given that 66% of HES priority areas intersect regions of above average area-weighted (by sub-watersheds) total forest carbon stocks and 38% intersect with terrestrial national parks. Considering implications for development, we identified HES priority areas overlapping current or proposed major roads, forestry concessions, and active mining concessions, highlighting the need for proactive planning for avoidance areas and compensatory offsets to mitigate potential conflicts. Collectively, our results provide insight into strategies to protect HES as part of Gabon’s development strategy, while providing a replicable methodology for application to new scales, geographies, and policy contexts.
Created: 12/14/2017 10:30 AM (ET)
Modified: 11/6/2018 4:52 PM (ET)
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