Identification of areas in Brazil that optimize conservation of forest carbon, jaguars, and biodiversity.
De Barros AE., MacDonald EA., Matsumoto MH., Paula RC., Nijhawan S., Malhi Y., MacDonald DW.
A major question in global environmental policy is whether schemes to reduce carbon pollution through forest management, such as Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+), can also benefit biodiversity conservation in tropical countries. We identified municipalities in Brazil that are priorities for reducing rates of deforestation and thus preserving carbon stocks that are also conservation targets for the endangered jaguar (Panthera onca) and biodiversity in general. Preliminary statistical analysis showed that municipalities with high biodiversity were positively associated with high forest carbon stocks. We used a multicriteria decision analysis to identify municipalities that offered the best opportunities for the conservation of forest carbon stocks and biodiversity conservation under a range of scenarios with different rates of deforestation and carbon values. We further categorized these areas by their representativeness of the entire country (through measures such as percent forest cover) and an indirect measure of cost (number of municipalities). The municipalities that offered optimal co-benefits for forest carbon stocks and conservation were termed REDDspots (n = 159), and their spatial distribution was compared with the distribution of current and proposed REDD projects (n = 135). We defined REDDspots as the municipalities that offer the best opportunities for co-benefits between the conservation of forest carbon stocks, jaguars, and other wildlife. These areas coincided in 25% (n = 40) of municipalities. We identified a further 95 municipalities that may have the greatest potential to develop additional REDD+ projects while also targeting biodiversity conservation. We concluded that REDD+ strategies could be an efficient tool for biodiversity conservation in key locations, especially in Amazonian and Atlantic Forest biomes.