Sustainability Science

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 357–369 | Cite as

Why biodiversity declines as protected areas increase: the effect of the power of governance regimes on sustainable landscapes

  • Rosemary HillEmail author
  • Craig Miller
  • Barry Newell
  • Michael Dunlop
  • Iain J. Gordon
Special Feature: Technical Report Pathways towards sustainable landscapes


Achieving sustainable landscapes that integrate food production with biodiversity conservation remains challenging, particularly in the tropics where most forest clearance results from conversion to industrial agriculture. Land-sparing (delineating protected areas and intensifying agricultural production from developed land) has often been identified as more effective than land-sharing (mixing protection and production in an agro-ecological matrix) for biodiversity in the tropics. Nevertheless, biodiversity decline continues despite protected area expansion meeting global targets under international conventions. We developed a low-order stock-and-flow model to consider this apparent paradox, and used it to structure deliberations on the impacts of the power of governance regimes. The model articulates our shared hypothesis about the basic dynamics of the social–ecological system. We present scenarios that depict plausible biodiversity change over time under three different governance regimes and land-use trajectories. The scenarios raise the possibility that, while land-sparing gives better short-term results for biodiversity, land-sharing may outperform it over time. Two key insights derive from our deliberations. First, the forces that drive forest clearance for development do not necessarily oppose those that drive forest protection; this decoupling helps explain why biodiversity loss continues as protected areas increase. Second, the power of the governance regimes that protect existing forest can be weakened by protected area expansion, through lowering public discourse about risks from biodiversity loss, while the power of governance regimes for development concurrently remain strong; this helps explains why some REDD+ schemes are associated with increasing deforestation. These insights suggest novel leverage points for sustainable tropical landscapes, such as prioritising protected area placement by proximity to active agricultural frontiers, rather than by representative biodiversity or cost-effectiveness; or using area-based conservation targets that include both the extent of protected areas and of other remaining forest habitat. We recommend further investigation of these ideas, and of collaborative conceptual modelling approaches, to explore solutions for sustainable tropical landscapes.


Protected areas Biodiversity Aichi Targets Social–ecological systems System dynamics 

Supplementary material

11625_2015_288_MOESM1_ESM.doc (74 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 74 kb)


  1. Adger WN, Benjaminsen TA, Brown K, Svarstad H (2001) Advancing a political ecology of global environmental discourses. Dev Change 32:681–715CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Alkemade R, Burkhard B, Crossman ND, Nedkov S, Petz K (2014) Quantifying ecosystem services and indicators for science, policy and practice. Ecol Indic 37:161–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Barr LM, Pressey RL, Fuller RA, Segan DB, McDonald-Madden E, Possingham HP (2011) A new way to measure the world’s protected area coverage. PLoS One 6:4Google Scholar
  4. Bayne EM, Campbell J, Hache S (2012) Is a picture worth a thousand species? Evaluating human perception of biodiversity intactness using images of cumulative effects. Ecol Indic 20:9–16CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Beddoe R, Costanza R, Farley J, Garza E, Kent J, Kubiszewski I, Martinez L, McCowen T, Murphy K, Myers N, Ogden Z, Stapleton K, Woodward J (2009) Overcoming systemic roadblocks to sustainability: the evolutionary redesign of worldviews, institutions, and technologies. PNAS 106:2483–2489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bernstein S, Cashore B (2012) Complex global governance and domestic policies: four pathways of influence. Int Aff 88:585–604CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Borrini-Feyerabend G, Hill R (2015) Governance of the conservation of nature. In: Worboys GL, Lockwood M, Kothari A (eds) Protected area governance and management. ANU Press, Canberra, pp 170–205 (in press)Google Scholar
  8. Byerlee D, Stevenson J, Villoria N (2014) Does intensification slow crop land expansion or encourage deforestation? Glob Food Secur 3:92–98CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Carrasco LR, Larrosa C, Milner-Gulland EJ, Edwards DP (2014) A double-edged sword for tropical forests. Science 346:38–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ceddia MG, Sedlacek S, Bardsley NO, Gomez-y-Paloma S (2013) Sustainable agricultural intensification or Jevons paradox? The role of public governance in tropical South America. Glob Environ Change-Hum Policy Dimens 23:1052–1063CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Ceddia MG, Bardsley NO, Gomez-y-Paloma S, Sedlacek S (2014) Governance, agricultural intensification, and land sparing in tropical South America. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111:7242–7247CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Chapelle S (2013) REDD+ in Madagascar: you can’t see the wood for the carbon. Paris, France: Basta! Les Amis de la TerreGoogle Scholar
  13. Chhatre A, Agrawal A (2009) Trade-offs and synergies between carbon storage and livelihood benefits from forest commons. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106:17667–17670CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Clement F (2010) Analysing decentralised natural resource governance: proposition for a “politicised” institutional analysis and development framework. Policy Sci 43:129–156CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cosquer A, Raymond R, Prevot-Julliard AC (2012) Observations of everyday biodiversity: a new perspective for conservation? Ecol Soc 17Google Scholar
  16. Crotty M (1998) The foundations of social research. Allen & Unwin, SydneyGoogle Scholar
  17. den Besten JW, Arts B, Verkooijen P (2014) The evolution of REDD+: an analysis of discursive-institutional dynamics. Environ Sci Policy 35:40–48CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Elias PE (2013) How can we incentivize tropical forest restoration? J Sustain For 32:694–701CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fischer J, Brosi B, Daily GC, Ehrlich PR, Goldman R, Goldstein J, Lindenmayer DB, Manning AD, Mooney HA, Pejchar L, Ranganathan J, Tallis H (2008) Should agricultural policies encourage land sparing or wildlife-friendly farming? Front Ecol Environ 6:380–385CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fischer J, Abson DJ, Butsic V, Chappell MJ, Ekroos J, Hanspach J, Kuemmerle T, Smith HG, von Wehrden H (2014) Land sparing versus land sharing: moving forward. Conserv Lett 7:149–157CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Ford A (2010) Modelling for the environment, 2nd edn. Island Press, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  22. Foucault M (1972) The Archaeology of Knowledge. Tavistock translated by Sheridan Smith, LondonGoogle Scholar
  23. Fuller RA, McDonald-Madden E, Wilson KA, Carwardine J, Grantham HS, Watson JEM, Klein CJ, Green DC, Possingham HP (2010) Replacing underperforming protected areas achieves better conservation outcomes. Nature 466:365–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Galbraith K (1983) The anatomy of power. Hamish Hamilton, BostonGoogle Scholar
  25. Galudra G, van Noordwijk M, Agung P, Suyanto S, Pradhan U (2014) Migrants, land markets and carbon emissions in Jambi, Indonesia: land tenure change and the prospect of emission reduction. Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 19:715–731Google Scholar
  26. Gibbs HK, Ruesch AS, Achard F, Clayton MK, Holmgren P, Ramankutty N, Foley JA (2010) Tropical forests were the primary sources of new agricultural land in the 1980s and 1990s. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 107:16732–16737CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Grau R, Kuemmerle T, Macchi L (2013) Beyond ‘land sparing versus land sharing’: environmental heterogeneity, globalization and the balance between agricultural production and nature conservation. Curr Opin Environ Sustain 5:477–483CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Green RE, Cornell SJ, Scharlemann JPW, Balmford A (2005) Farming and the fate of wild nature. Science 307:550–555CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Groffman PM, Stylinski C, Nisbet MC, Duarte CM, Jordan R, Burgin A, Previtali MA, Coloso J (2010) Restarting the conversation: challenges at the interface between ecology and society. Front Ecol Environ 8:284–291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hall R, editor. (2013) REDD+ and the underlying causes of deforestation and forest degradation. Asunción, Paraguay. Online, Global forest coalition
  31. Haslett J, Berry P, Bela G, Jongman RG, Pataki G, Samways M, Zobel M (2010) Changing conservation strategies in Europe: a framework integrating ecosystem services and dynamics. Biodivers Conserv 19:2963–2977CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Habermas J (1996) Between facts and norms contributions to a discourse theory of law and democracy. In: Rehg W (ed). MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  33. Headland TN, Bailey RC (1991) Introduction: have hunter-gatherers ever lived in tropical rain forest independently of agriculture? Hum Ecol 19:115–122CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hill R (2011) Towards equity in Indigenous co-management of protected areas: cultural planning by Miriuwung-Gajerrong people in the Kimberley, Western Australia. Geogr Res 49:72–85CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Hill R, Baird A (2003) Kuku-Yalanji Rainforest Aboriginal people and carbohydrate resource management in the Wet Tropics of Queensland, Australia. Hum Ecol 30:27–52CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Hill R, Halamish E, Gordon IJ, Clark M (2013) The maturation of biodiversity as a global social–ecological issue and implications for future biodiversity science and policy. Futures 46:41–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Hulme MF, Vickery JA, Green RE, Phalan B, Chamberlain DE, Pomeroy DE, Nalwanga D, Mushabe D, Katebaka R, Bolwig S, Atkinson PW (2013) Conserving the birds of Uganda’s banana-coffee arc: land sparing and land sharing compared. PLoS One 8:13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Jackson ST, Sax DF (2010) Balancing biodiversity in a changing environment: extinction debt, immigration credit and species turnover. Trends Ecol Evol 25:153–160CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Jerneck A, Olsson L, Ness B, Anderberg S, Baier M, Clark E, Hickler T, Hornborg A, Kronsell A, Lövbrand E, Persson J (2011) Structuring sustainability science. Sustain Sci 6:69–82CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Jevons WS (1865) The question of coal. Macmillan, LondonGoogle Scholar
  41. Joppa LN, Pfaff A (2009) High and far: biases in the location of protected areas. PLoS One 4:e8273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Juntti M, Russel D, Turnpenny J (2009) Evidence, politics and power in public policy for the environment. Environ Sci Policy 12:207–215CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Lakoff G, Johnson M (1980) Metaphors we live by. University of Chicago Press, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  44. Larson AM, Brockhaus M, Sunderlin WD, Duchelle A, Babon A, Dokken T, Thu Thuy P, Resosudarmo IAP, Selaya G, Awono A, Thu-Ba H (2013) Land tenure and REDD plus : the good, the bad and the ugly. Glob Environ Change-Hum Policy Dimens 23:678–689CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Laurance WF, Useche DC, Rendeiro J, Kalka M, Bradshaw CJA, Sloan SP, Laurance SG, Campbell M, Abernethy K, Alvarez P, Arroyo-Rodriguez V, Ashton P, Benitez-Malvido J, Blom A, Bobo KS, Cannon CH, Cao M, Carroll R, Chapman C, Coates R, Cords M, Danielsen F, De Dijn B, Dinerstein E, Donnelly MA, Edwards D, Edwards F, Farwig N, Fashing P, Forget PM, Foster M, Gale G, Harris D, Harrison R, Hart J, Karpanty S, Kress WJ, Krishnaswamy J, Logsdon W, Lovett J, Magnusson W, Maisels F, Marshall AR, McClearn D, Mudappa D, Nielsen MR, Pearson R, Pitman N, van der Ploeg J, Plumptre A, Poulsen J, Quesada M, Rainey H, Robinson D, Roetgers C, Rovero F, Scatena F, Schulze C, Sheil D, Struhsaker T, Terborgh J, Thomas D, Timm R, Urbina-Cardona JN, Vasudevan K, Wright SJ, Arias-G JC, Arroyo L, Ashton M, Auzel P, Babaasa D, Babweteera F, Baker P, Banki O, Bass M, Bila-Isia I, Blake S, Brockelman W, Brokaw N, Bruhl CA, Bunyavejchewin S, Chao JT, Chave J, Chellam R, Clark CJ, Clavijo J, Congdon R, Corlett R, Dattaraja HS, Dave C, Davies G, Beisiegel BD, da Silva RD, Di Fiore A, Diesmos A, Dirzo R, Doran-Sheehy D, Eaton M, Emmons L, Estrada A, Ewango C, Fedigan L, Feer F, Fruth B, Willis JG, Goodale U, Goodman S, Guix JC, Guthiga P, Haber W, Hamer K, Herbinger I, Hill J, Huang ZL, Sun IF, Ickes K, Itoh A, Ivanauskas N, Jackes B, Janovec J, Janzen D, Jiangming M, Jin C, Jones T, Justiniano H, Kalko E, Kasangaki A, Killeen T, King HB, Klop E, Knott C, Kone I, Kudavidanage E, Ribeiro JLD, Lattke J, Laval R, Lawton R, Leal M, Leighton M, Lentino M, Leonel C, Lindsell J, Ling-Ling L, Linsenmair KE, Losos E, Lugo A, Lwanga J, Mack AL, Martins M, McGraw WS, McNab R, Montag L, Thompson JM, Nabe-Nielsen J, Nakagawa M, Nepal S, Norconk M, Novotny V, O’Donnell S, Opiang M, Ouboter P, Parker K, Parthasarathy N, Pisciotta K, Prawiradilaga D, Pringle C, Rajathurai S, Reichard U, Reinartz G, Renton K, Reynolds G, Reynolds V, Riley E, Rodel MO, Rothman J, Round P, Sakai S, Sanaiotti T, Savini T, Schaab G, Seidensticker J, Siaka A, Silman MR, Smith TB, de Almeida SS, Sodhi N, Stanford C, Stewart K, Stokes E, Stoner KE, Sukumar R, Surbeck M, Tobler M, Tscharntke T, Turkalo A, Umapathy G, van Weerd M, Rivera JV, Venkataraman M, Venn L, Verea C, de Castilho CV, Waltert M, Wang B, Watts D, Weber W, West P, Whitacre D, Whitney K, Wilkie D, Williams S, Wright DD, Wright P, Xiankai L, Yonzon P, Zamzani F (2012) Averting biodiversity collapse in tropical forest protected areas. Nature 489:290CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Laurance WF, Sayer J, Cassman KG (2014) Agricultural expansion and its impacts on tropical nature. Trends Ecol Evol 29:107–116CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Leach M, Raworth K, Rockström J (2013) Between social and planetary boundaries: navigating pathways in the safe and just space for humanity. In: ISSC and UNESCO (eds). World Social Science Report. Changing global environments, OECD Publishing and UNESCO Publishing, Paris, FranceGoogle Scholar
  48. Lebel L, Anderies JM, Campbell B, Folke C, Hatfield-Dodds S, Hughes TP, Wilson J (2006) Governance and the capacity to manage resilience in regional social–ecological systems. Ecol Soc 11Google Scholar
  49. MacArthur RH, Wilson EO (1967) The theory of island biogeography. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  50. Matthews R, van Noordwijk M (2014) From euphoria to reality on efforts to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+). Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 19:615–620CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Mora C, Sale PF (2011) Ongoing global biodiversity loss and the need to move beyond protected areas: a review of the technical and practical shortcomings of protected areas on land and sea. Mar Ecol-Prog Ser 434:251–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nepstad D, McGrath D, Stickler C, Alencar A, Azevedo A, Swette B, Bezerra T, DiGiano M, Shimada J, da Motta RS, Armijo E, Castello L, Brando P, Hansen MC, McGrath-Horn M, Carvalho O, Hess L (2014) Slowing Amazon deforestation through public policy and interventions in beef and soy supply chains. Science 344:1118–1123CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Newell B (2012) Simple models, powerful ideas: towards effective integrative practice. Glob Environ Change-Hum Policy Dimens 22:776–783CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Novacek MJ (2008) Engaging the public in biodiversity issues. Proc Natl Acad Sci 105:11571–11578CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. O’Rourke D (2014) The science of sustainable supply chains. Science 344:1124–1127CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Ostrom E (2008) The challenge of common-pool resources. Environment 50:8–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Paavola J, Gouldson A, Kluvankova-Oravska T (2009) Interplay of actors, scales, frameworks and regimes in the governance of biodiversity. Environ Policy Gov 19:148–158CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Papworth SK, Rist J, Coad L, Milner-Gulland EJ (2009) Evidence for shifting baseline syndrome in conservation. Conserv Lett 2:93–100Google Scholar
  59. Peters RL, Lovejoy TE (eds) (1992) Global warming and biological diversity. Yale University Press, New HavenGoogle Scholar
  60. Phalan B, Onial M, Balmford A, Green RE (2011) Reconciling food production and biodiversity conservation: land sharing and land sparing compared. Science 333:1289–1291CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Phalan B, Bertzky M, Butchart SHM, Donald PF, Scharlemann JPW, Stattersfield AJ, Balmford A (2013) Crop expansion and conservation priorities in tropical countries. PLoS One 8:13CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Phalan B, Green R, Balmford A (2014) Closing yield gaps: perils and possibilities for biodiversity conservation. Philos Trans R Soc B-Biol, Sci 369Google Scholar
  63. Pokorny B, Scholz I, de Jong W (2013) REDD+ for the poor or the poor for REDD+? About the limitations of environmental policies in the Amazon and the potential of achieving environmental goals through pro-poor policies. Ecol Soc 18:3Google Scholar
  64. Rodrigues ASL, Akcakaya HR, Andelman SJ, Bakarr MI, Boitani L, Brooks TM, Chanson JS, Fishpool LDC, Da Fonseca GAB, Gaston KJ, Hoffmann M, Marquet PA, Pilgrim JD, Pressey RL, Schipper J, Sechrest W, Stuart SN, Underhill LG, Waller RW, Watts MEJ, Yan X (2004) Global gap analysis: priority regions for expanding the global protected-area network. Bioscience 54:1092–1100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Schroeder H, McDermott C (2014) Beyond carbon: enabling justice and equity in REDD plus across levels of governance. Ecol Soc 19:31CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Shackelford N, Hobbs RJ, Burgar JM, Erickson TE, Fontaine JB, Laliberte E, Ramalho CE, Perring MP, Standish RJ (2013) Primed for change: developing ecological restoration for the 21st century. Restor Ecol 21:297–304CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Shandra JM, McKinney LA, Leckband C, London B (2010) Debt, structural adjustment, and biodiversity loss: a cross-national analysis of threatened mammals and birds. Hum Ecol Rev 17:18–33Google Scholar
  68. Sloan S, Pelletier J (2012) How accurately may we project tropical forest-cover change? A validation of a forward-looking baseline for REDD. Glob Environ Change-Hum Policy Dimens 22:440–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Sterman J (2000) Business dynamics: systems thinking and modeling for a complex world. Irwin/McGraw-Hill, BostonGoogle Scholar
  70. Sterman JD (2002) All models are wrong: reflections on becoming a systems scientist. Syst Dyn Rev 18:501–531CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Tilman D, May RM, Lehman CL, Nowak MA (1994) Habitat destruction and the extinction debt. Nature 371:65–66CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Tscharntke T, Clough Y, Wanger TC, Jackson L, Motzke I, Perfecto I, Vandermeer J, Whitbread A (2012) Global food security, biodiversity conservation and the future of agricultural intensification. Biol Conserv 151:53–59CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Václavík T, Lautenbach S, Kuemmerle T, Seppelt R (2013) Mapping global land system archetypes. Glob Environ Change 23:1637–1647CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Valiverronen E, Hellsten I (2002) From “burning library” to “green medicine”—the role of metaphors in communicating biodiversity. Sci Commun 24:229–245CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Villoria NB, Golub A, Byerlee D, Stevenson J (2013) Will yield improvements on the forest frontier reduce greenhouse gas emissions? A global analysis of oil palm. Am J Agric Econ 95:1301–1308CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. Villoria NB, Byerlee D, Stevenson J (2014) The effects of agricultural technological progress on deforestation: what do we really know? Appl Econ Perspect Policy 36:211–237CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  77. White D (2014) A perfect storm? Indigenous rights within a national REDD+ readiness process in Peru. Mitig Adapt Strat Glob Change 19:657–676CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Japan 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rosemary Hill
    • 1
    Email author
  • Craig Miller
    • 2
  • Barry Newell
    • 3
  • Michael Dunlop
    • 4
  • Iain J. Gordon
    • 5
  1. 1.Division of Tropical Environments and SocietiesCSIRO Land and Water Flagship, Biodiversity, Ecosystems Knowledge and Services Program, James Cook UniversityCairnsAustralia
  2. 2.CTM Consulting (Qld)BrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Fenner School of Environment and SocietyThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  4. 4.CSIRO Land and Water FlagshipActonAustralia
  5. 5.James Hutton InstituteDundeeUK

Personalised recommendations