Balancing agriculture and conservation in African savannas

My colleagues and I have a new paper (pre-production version here, production version here) out today in the latest issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, the theme of which is “Tropical Grassy Biomes: linking ecology, human use, and conservation“, edited by Drs. Caroline Lehmann and Catherine Parr (a fellow Fitztitute alum). Our paper uses a new land use tradeoff model that is designed to find optimal tradeoffs between agricultural expansion and environmental conservation in Zambia, a bellwether for agriculturally driven land use change in sub-Saharan Africa’s savannas (see our earlier paper on this subject for more background). The model is designed to allow users with competing land use interests to evaluate the costs and benefits of compromise. Encouragingly, we find that small compromises from the objective to convert the highest yielding areas can result in substantial reductions in carbon and biodiversity loss, as well as transportation costs.