Conference Post #4: Tools for determining sustainable land use

Sustainability should not just be limited to its environmental connotations: there are a number of forms in which it presents itself, including, but not limited to social and economic. These manifest themselves most commonly in indirect land-use-change, which has presented enormous problems, particularly in rain forest degradation in  Brazil. This research team presented a number of tools for assessing land-use-change based on sustainable and responsible land use. Two techniques used to develop these systems were IBAT: the integrated biodiversity assessment plan (which conducts site-specific risk analysis for environmental assessment plans, with over 1,000 users world-wide) and ARIES: the artificial intelligence for ecosystem services (which creates proposed effects in policy change. These tools helped in the creation of two different methodologies for planning and tracking land-use-change over long periods of time. The first method has been dubbed “Responsible Cultivation Areas” and focuses on identifying (through mapping) where biofuels could be produced safely and sustainably without “displacement effects.” This technology is universally applicable and critical for future land-use planning. It was amazing to watch this process, which was essentially layered maps which continued to eliminate land areas which were already cultivated, had inhabitants, or not usable for growing biofuels. In this way, random cutting into rain forest margins would hopefully be prevented. The second method concerns linking biofuel production with forest carbon by producing feedstocks on degraded land while restoring forest edges, which would increase forest cover while simultaneously boosting biofuel production and carbon sequestration.

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