Session: Leveraging data-driven approaches to identify vital connections in sustainable agricultural ecosystems
The contribution of corporate protected areas to biodiversity conservation in tropical commodity crop landscapes
Thursday, August 5, 2021
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Kimberly M. Carlson, New York University, Michael Eggen, Science for Nature and People Partnership, John Garcia-Ulloa, ETH Zürich, Hedley Grantham, Wildlife Conservation Society, Robert Heilmayr, Environmental Studies Program, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA, Jane K. Hill, Department of Biology, University of York, York, United Kingdom, Clinton N. Jenkins, Department of Earth and Environment, Florida International University, FL, Matthew S. Luskin, University of Queensland, Grant Rosoman, Greenpeace International, Olivia Scholtz, HCV Resource Network, Sarah A. Scriven, University of York and Charlotte Z. Smith, University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa
Background/Question/Methods Private environmental governance of commodity supply chains that endanger tropical forests has grown rapidly over the last ten years. Participation in these governance initiatives, including sustainability certification systems and zero-deforestation commitments, requires that commodity producers avoid clearing forests. While definitions and methods for identification of such forests vary widely, the High Conservation Value (HCV) and High Carbon Stock (HCS) methodologies are often used to identify lands designated for protection. However, the extent, distribution, and characteristics (e.g., percent forest cover) of areas protected under these initiatives has been largely unknown. Therefore, it remains uncertain to what extent HCV and HCS areas contribute to the conservation goals of these governance initiatives, and whether such “corporate protected areas” offer additional conservation benefits beyond public protected areas. Here, we ask: What are the extent, distribution, and characteristics of corporate protected areas, and how do these attributes compare to those of public protected areas? To address these questions, we analyze digitized HCV and HCS areas within oil palm and pulp and paper plantations across Indonesia, a major producer of both commodities. We then quantify key attributes of these areas related to conservation of biodiversity (e.g., forest cover) and risk of deforestation (e.g., slope) and compare them to attributes of nearby protected areas. Results/Conclusions Results suggest that total HCV and HCS extent is only a small fraction of public protected area extent. Compared to public protected areas, corporate protected areas have less forest cover, although they tend to be located in wetter, hotter, and flatter areas. These findings imply that at their current scale of implementation, corporate protected areas do not yet contribute substantially to conservation goals. However, our finding that HCV and HCS potentially target different ecosystems than public parks provides hope that if scaled up, these initiatives could complement traditional conservation policies. This research provides insight into the spatio-temporal footprint of supply chain conservation policies and informs efforts to adapt these policies to more effectively conserve ecosystems in commodity production landscapes.