Bird Community Conservation and Carbon Offsets in Western North America

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Date: June 11, 2014
From: PLoS ONE(Vol. 9, Issue 6)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Document Type: Article
Length: 6,960 words
Lexile Measure: 1680L

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Abstract :

Conservation initiatives to protect and restore valued species and communities in human-dominated landscapes face huge challenges linked to the cost of acquiring habitat. We ask how the sale of forest carbon offsets could reduce land acquisition costs, and how the alternate goals of maximizing [alpha] or [beta]-diversity in focal communities could affect the prioritization land parcels over a range of conservation targets. Maximizing total carbon storage and carbon sequestration potential reduced land acquisition costs by up to 48%. Maximizing [beta] rather than [alpha]-diversity within forest and savannah bird communities reduced acquisition costs by up to 15%, and when these solutions included potential carbon credit revenues, acquisition cost reductions up to 32% were achieved. However, the total cost of conservation networks increased exponentially as area targets increased in all scenarios. Our results indicate that carbon credit sales have the potential to enhance conservation outcomes in human-dominated landscapes by reducing the net acquisition costs of land conservation in old and maturing forests essential for the persistence of old forest plant and animal communities. Maximizing [beta] versus [alpha]-diversity may further reduce costs by reducing the total area required to meet conservation targets and enhancing landscape heterogeneity. Although the potential value of carbon credit sales declined as a fraction of total acquisition costs, even conservative scenarios using a carbon credit value of $12.5/T suggest reductions in acquisition cost of up to $235 M, indicating that carbon credit sales could substantially reduce the costs of conservation.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A418635272