SNAPP TEAM:Better Land Use
Will comparing tradeoffs among multiple land use options and relative values lead to greater, more durable returns for the prosperity of nature and people?

Critical land use decisions are often made without understanding the full range of potential tradeoffs that different land use choices might yield among social, economic, and environmental values. This group modeled and field tested values for biodiversity, water quality- and quantity-related ecosystem services, carbon sequestration, and economic returns from grazing, crop and timber production, and other market oriented activities.


OUR APPROACH: The team evaluated case studies of land use tradeoffs, focusing on the interaction between forest code enforcement and soy production in the Brazilian Amazon and Cerrado regions. They also investigated the discord between sage grouse conservation and livestock grazing in sagebrush ecosystems of the Western United States.

Team Status: COMPLETED
Team Critical Challenges: Social Innovations, Food and Freshwater

Land Use Case Studies

The team identified 1) how forest code enforcement, extension of the soy moratorium, and spatial expansion would affect agricultural production, habitat loss, and forest protection, 2) how potential restrictions on grazing on public lands could indirectly affect habitat conversion on private lands via changes to ranching income, and 3) how habitat conservation would provide co-benefits from other species and ecosystems services  within priority sage grouse conservation areas.


Incorporating Private Landowners into Large-Scale Conservation Planning

The team confirmed the importance of modeling private landowners’ economic decisions for informing conservation, land use planning, and federal policy. One of the most surprising findings was that unintended consequences are prevalent when this factor is ignored in large-scale conservation planning.



“When it comes to a choice between ranching, farming, or housing in the West, sustainable ranching is the most compatible with wildlife.”

-Claire Runge, Team Member

Key Products
Land cover change maps

These data sets include yearly maps of land cover classification in Brazil’s Mato Grosso State from 2001-2016. The data tracks natural and human-transformed land areas and discriminates among different agricultural crops.

Modeling the soy moratorium in Brazil

This technical report was the first from this team. It investigated the effectiveness of the Soy Moratorium in Brazil in reducing deforestation and protecting biodiversity.

Unintended habitat loss on private land from grazing restrictions on public rangelands

By considering links between public and private land, we show that attempts to improve habitat on public lands via grazing restrictions could result in unintended habitat loss on private lands.

Blocking soy cultivation in the Cerrado ecosystem could protect almost 4 million hectares

Through modeling and spatial data analysis, the team found that banning soy production in the Cerrado biome would be the most effective way to protect it long term. Though the risk agriculture may pose to the Cerrado will depend on global soy demand and other complexly interacting factors, the team found that expanding the Soy Moratorium to include this unique ecosystem could protect 3.6 million hectares by 2050.

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Carlos Durigan
Wildlife Conservation Society
Joe Fargione
The Nature Conservancy
Derric Pennington 
World Wildlife Fund
Stephen Polasky
University of Minnesota
Mario Barroso
World Wildlife Fund
Gilberto Camara 
Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciáis 
Michael Coe 
Woods Hole Research Center 
Don Eaton
Wildlife Conservation Society 
Alexine Keuroghlian 
Wildlife Conservation Society 
Josh Lawler
University of Washington
Dave Lewis 
Oregon State University 
Ruben Lubowski
Environmental Defense Fund
Sebastian Martinuzzi 
University of Wisconsin 
Aline Mosnier 
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis 
Dave Naugle 
Erik Nelson 
Bowdoin College
Michael Obersteiner 
International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis 
Andrew Plantinga 
University of California, Santa Barbara 
Volker Radeloff
University of Wisconsin 
Fernando Ramos 
Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais 
Claire Runge 
University of California, Santa Barbara
Meg Symington
World Wildlife Fund
John Withey
Florida International University 
Alexandre Ywata 
Instituto de Pesquisa Econômica Aplicada 
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