Global extent of degraded farm lands and their conservation potential

 

Globally the area of agricultural land is shifting due to environmental degradation, market changes and social trends, leaving some lands abandoned and others in a state of reduced productive potential. Although expensive, restoring these uncontested degraded lands no longer used for agriculture should offer conservation opportunities with minimal social or political opposition. However, at large scales (regional or global) the conservation potential of uncontested lands is unknown due to a lack of knowledge of their extent and location. Using state-of-the-art remote sensing approaches coupled with socio-economic metrics this project aims to map uncontested lands worldwide and assess their potential contribution to global conservation.

 

Knowing the stock of these uncontested lands, the costs and benefits of their restoration will support key government policy decisions that balance conservation goals with needs for food, fibre and energy. Evaluation of the ecology and economics of restoring these lands can guide investment decisions by conservation NGOs and multilateral lenders like the World Bank. The world’s largest conservation NGO is a key collaborator on this innovative project, ensuring a clear, credible pathway to impact.

 

Group researchers:

Zunyi Xie

Eve Mcdonald-Madden

 

Partners:

Stuart Phinn (UQ)

David Pannell (UWA)

Richard Hobbs (UWA)

Edward Game (TNC)

 

Funding:

ARC Discovery Grant