If They Come, Where will We Build It? Land-Use Implications of Two Forest Conservation Policies in the Deep Creek Watershed Anputhas, Markandu; Janmaat, Johannus; Nichol, Craig; Wei, Xiaohua
Research Highlights: Forest conservation policies can drive land-use change to other land-use types. In multifunctional landscapes, forest conservation policies will therefore impact on other functions delivered by the landscape. Finding the best pattern of land use requires considering these interactions. Background and Objectives: Population growth continues to drive the development of land for urban purposes. Consequently, there is a loss of other land uses, such as agriculture and forested lands. Efforts to conserve one type of land use will drive more change onto other land uses. Absent effective collaboration among affected communities and relevant institutional agents, unexpected and undesirable land-use change may occur. Materials and Methods: A CLUE-S (Conversion of Land Use and its Effects at Small Scales) model was developed for the Deep Creek watershed, a small sub-basin in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada. The valley is experiencing among the most rapid population growth of any region in Canada. Land uses were aggregated into one forested land-use type, one urban land-use type, and three agricultural types. Land-use change was simulated for combinations of two forest conservation policies. Changes are categorized by location, land type, and an existing agricultural land policy. Results: Forest conservation policies drive land conversion onto agricultural land and may increase the loss of low elevation forested land. Model results show where the greatest pressure for removing land from agriculture is likely to occur for each scenario. As an important corridor for species movement, the loss of low elevation forest land may have serious impacts on habitat connectivity. Conclusions: Forest conservation policies that do not account for feedbacks can have unintended consequences, such as increasing conversion pressures on other valued land uses. To avoid surprises, land-use planners and policy makers need to consider these interactions. Models such as CLUE-S can help identify these spatial impacts.
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