Projecting Land-Use Change and Its Consequences for Biodiversity in Northern Thailand

Y. Trisurat, R. Alkemade, P.H. Verburg

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    Rapid deforestation has occurred in northern Thailand over the last few decades and it is expected to continue. The government has implemented conservation policies aimed at maintaining forest cover of 50% or more and promoting agribusiness, forestry, and tourism development in the region. The goal of this paper was to analyze the likely effects of various directions of development on the region. Specific objectives were (1) to forecast land-use change and land-use patterns across the region based on three scenarios, (2) to analyze the consequences for biodiversity, and (3) to identify areas most susceptible to future deforestation and high biodiversity loss. The study combined a dynamic land-use change model (Dyna-CLUE) with a model for biodiversity assessment (GLOBIO3). The Dyna-CLUE model was used to determine the spatial patterns of land-use change for the three scenarios. The methodology developed for the Global Biodiversity Assessment Model framework (GLOBIO 3) was used to estimate biodiversity intactness expressed as the remaining relative mean species abundance (MSA) of the original species relative to their abundance in the primary vegetation. The results revealed that forest cover in 2050 would mainly persist in the west and upper north of the region, which is rugged and not easily accessible. In contrast, the highest deforestation was expected to occur in the lower north. MSA values decreased from 0.52 in 2002 to 0.45, 0.46, and 0.48, respectively, for the three scenarios in 2050. In addition, the estimated area with a high threat to biodiversity (an MSA decrease >0.5) derived from the simulated land-use maps in 2050 was approximately 2.8% of the region for the trend scenario. In contrast, the high-threat areas covered 1.6 and 0.3% of the region for the integrated-management and conservation-oriented scenarios, respectively. Based on the model outcomes, conservation measures were recommended to minimize the impacts of deforestation on biodiversity. The model results indicated that only establishing a fixed percentage of forest was not efficient in conserving biodiversity. Measures aimed at the conservation of locations with high biodiversity values, limited fragmentation, and careful consideration of road expansion in pristine forest areas may be more efficient to achieve biodiversity conservation. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)626-639
    JournalEnvironmental Management
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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