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Complex Effects of Telecouplings on Forest Dynamics: An Agent-Based Modeling Approach

Hongbo YangaState Key Laboratory of Urban and Regional Ecology, Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
bGlobal Development Policy Center, Boston University, Boston, Massachusetts
cCenter for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan
dKey Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation, China West Normal University, Nanchong, Sichuan Province, China

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Arika Ligmann-ZielinskaeDepartment of Geography, Environment, and Spatial Sciences, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

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Yue DoufDepartment of Natural Resources, Faculty of Geo-information Science and Earth Observation (ITC), University of Twente, Enschede, Netherlands

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Min Gon ChungcCenter for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

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Jindong ZhangdKey Laboratory of Southwest China Wildlife Resources Conservation, China West Normal University, Nanchong, Sichuan Province, China

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Jianguo LiucCenter for Systems Integration and Sustainability, Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan

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Abstract

Rural areas are increasingly subject to the effects of telecouplings (socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances) whereby their human and natural dynamics are linked to socioeconomic and environmental drivers operating far away, such as the growing demand for labor and ecosystem services in cities. Although there have been many studies evaluating the effects of telecouplings, telecouplings in those studies were often investigated separately, and how telecouplings may interact and affect dynamics of rural coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) jointly was rarely evaluated. In this study, we developed an agent-based model and simulated the impacts of two globally common telecouplings, nature-based tourism and labor migration, on forest dynamics of a rural CHANS, China’s Wolong Nature Reserve (Wolong). Nature-based tourism and labor migration can facilitate forest recovery, and the predicted forest areas in Wolong in 2030 would be reduced by 26.2 km2 (6.8%) and 23.9 km2 (6.2%), respectively, without their effects. However, tourism development can significantly reduce the probability of local households to have member(s) outmigrate to work in cities and decrease the positive impact of labor migration on forest recovery. Our simulations show that the interaction between tourism and labor migration can reduce the potential forest recovery by 3.5 km2 (5.0%) in 2030. Our study highlights that interactions among different telecouplings can generate significant impacts on socioeconomic and environmental outcomes and should be jointly considered in the design, management, and evaluation of telecouplings for achieving sustainable development goals.

Significance Statement

Rural areas are increasingly connected with other places through telecouplings, such as tourism and labor migration. However, telecouplings’ effects were often evaluated separately, and their interaction remains poorly understood. In this study, we evaluated how two globally common telecouplings, tourism and labor migration, jointly affect forest dynamics in a demonstration site using an agent-based modeling approach. Although both tourism and labor migration can benefit forest conservation, we found that their interaction generates an antagonistic effect: households’ involvement in tourism activities reduces their probability to have members outmigrate to work in cities and significantly diminishes the beneficial impact of labor migration on forest recovery. Our study highlights the importance of considering interaction among telecouplings in the management of telecouplings for sustainability.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Hongbo Yang, yanghon8@msu.edu; Jianguo Liu, liuji@msu.edu

Abstract

Rural areas are increasingly subject to the effects of telecouplings (socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances) whereby their human and natural dynamics are linked to socioeconomic and environmental drivers operating far away, such as the growing demand for labor and ecosystem services in cities. Although there have been many studies evaluating the effects of telecouplings, telecouplings in those studies were often investigated separately, and how telecouplings may interact and affect dynamics of rural coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) jointly was rarely evaluated. In this study, we developed an agent-based model and simulated the impacts of two globally common telecouplings, nature-based tourism and labor migration, on forest dynamics of a rural CHANS, China’s Wolong Nature Reserve (Wolong). Nature-based tourism and labor migration can facilitate forest recovery, and the predicted forest areas in Wolong in 2030 would be reduced by 26.2 km2 (6.8%) and 23.9 km2 (6.2%), respectively, without their effects. However, tourism development can significantly reduce the probability of local households to have member(s) outmigrate to work in cities and decrease the positive impact of labor migration on forest recovery. Our simulations show that the interaction between tourism and labor migration can reduce the potential forest recovery by 3.5 km2 (5.0%) in 2030. Our study highlights that interactions among different telecouplings can generate significant impacts on socioeconomic and environmental outcomes and should be jointly considered in the design, management, and evaluation of telecouplings for achieving sustainable development goals.

Significance Statement

Rural areas are increasingly connected with other places through telecouplings, such as tourism and labor migration. However, telecouplings’ effects were often evaluated separately, and their interaction remains poorly understood. In this study, we evaluated how two globally common telecouplings, tourism and labor migration, jointly affect forest dynamics in a demonstration site using an agent-based modeling approach. Although both tourism and labor migration can benefit forest conservation, we found that their interaction generates an antagonistic effect: households’ involvement in tourism activities reduces their probability to have members outmigrate to work in cities and significantly diminishes the beneficial impact of labor migration on forest recovery. Our study highlights the importance of considering interaction among telecouplings in the management of telecouplings for sustainability.

© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding authors: Hongbo Yang, yanghon8@msu.edu; Jianguo Liu, liuji@msu.edu
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