Land-use trends in Endemic Bird Areas: global expansion of agriculture in areas of high conservation value

Authors

  • Jörn P. W. Scharlemann,

    1. Conservation Biology Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB3 2EJ, UK,
    2. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL, UK
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  • Rhys E. Green,

    1. Conservation Biology Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB3 2EJ, UK,
    2. Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 2DL, UK
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  • Andrew Balmford

    1. Conservation Biology Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, Downing Street, Cambridge CB3 2EJ, UK,
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Jörn P. W. Scharlemann, fax +44 1223 336676, e-mail: jpws2@cam.ac.uk

Abstract

The impacts of humans on biodiversity tend to be exacerbated by the coincidence of human settlement with areas of high biological value, as demonstrated by regional, continental and global analyses. We present a global analysis, intersecting Endemic Bird Areas (EBAs) with fine-scale data on changes in agricultural land use for the past 300 years and for four scenarios projecting land use up to 2050. The proportion of land in agricultural use is currently greater in EBAs than in the rest of the world (42.0% vs. 37.0%, respectively), has been historically (in 1700: 9.1% vs. 5.7%, through to 1900: 43.4% vs. 32.1%) and looks set to remain so in the future (44.6–56.1% vs. 37.0–43.2%; depending on scenario). However, the future course of agricultural expansion is more scenario-dependent in EBAs than in the rest of the world, indicating that development policies have considerable potential to either ease or exacerbate the disproportionate impact of agriculture on areas of highest biological value.

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