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Yang Hong
,
Thomas Connor
,
Huan Luo
,
Xiaoxing Bian
,
Zhaogang Duan
,
Zhuo Tang
, and
Jindong Zhang

Abstract

We thank Luxom and Sharma for their attention to and comments on our study. In recent years, livestock have been expanding into snow leopard habitat, and we conducted this study to examine the effects of that encroachment on snow leopard habitat within Wolong Nature Reserve. Specific responses to Luxom and Sharma’s comments include the following: 1) Many habitat factors influence carnivore–habitat relationships at varying spatial scales, and it is difficult for any single study to address the full suite of factors acting across all scales of selection. Given this fact and the limited spatial scale of our snow leopard sign survey, we mainly focused on snow leopard space use and microhabitat selection. 2) Our results are not necessarily conflicting, but more research is required to further explain how high sign densities, concentrated space use, and weak habitat selection behaviors might relate to each other. 3) We agree that examining a gradient of grazing intensities would be preferable, but because of the difficulty in collecting sufficient field data and the nature of livestock grazing patterns in our study area, we think that dividing our survey area into high- and low-grazing-disturbance areas was appropriate. 4) The original intent of this study was to examine habitat factors and response to livestock within our study area in Wolong Nature Reserve, and we did not intend for our specific results to be used for management recommendations beyond Wolong but instead encourage similar studies to be conducted in other areas.

Free access
Hongbo Yang
,
Arika Ligmann-Zielinska
,
Yue Dou
,
Min Gon Chung
,
Jindong Zhang
, and
Jianguo Liu

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.

Full access
Yang Hong
,
Thomas Connor
,
Huan Luo
,
Xiaoxing Bian
,
Zhaogang Duan
,
Zhuo Tang
, and
Jindong Zhang

Abstract

There is increasing conflict between snow leopards and humans in many protected areas, the main driver of which is the overlap in spatial utilization between snow leopards and livestock. Understanding the spatial utilization and microhabitat selection of snow leopards in areas featuring different levels of livestock grazing is important to better understand and resolve this conflict, but such studies are rare. Here, we conducted line transect and plot surveys in low- and high-grazing-disturbance areas (LGDAs and HGDAs) in Wolong National Reserve, southwestern China. We compared snow leopard spatial utilization and microhabitat characteristics between LGDAs and HGDAs. Results showed that snow leopards had aggregated distribution in both LGDAs and HGDAs, but the distribution of snow leopards in HGDAs was more centralized than in LGDAs. Herb cover and height in LGDAs were greater than in HGDAs. We fit a resource selection function (RSF) that showed that snow leopards preferentially selected higher elevation, smaller basal diameter of shrubs, and lower height of herbs in LGDAs. In contrast, there were no significant microhabitat factors in our snow leopard RSF in HGDAs. Our results indicate that high-intensity grazing tends to reduce the habitat types available to and preferential selectivity of habitat by snow leopards. We recommend that livestock grazing should be controlled to restore the diversity of the alpine ecosystems in Wolong Nature Reserve. Our findings also highlight the need for evaluating the impact of livestock grazing on rare animals in alpine environments (e.g., snow leopard) in other areas facing similar issues.

Full access
Yujun Wang
,
Hongbo Yang
,
Vanessa Hull
,
Jindong Zhang
,
Xiaodong Chen
,
Xiang Li
,
Zejun Zhang
,
Cheng Li
,
Fang Wang
,
Zhiqiang Zhao
,
Ying Tang
, and
Jianguo Liu

Abstract

The effects of various strategies aimed at simultaneously promoting environmental conservation and human development are closely related to sustainable development regionally and globally. However, although the effects of many such strategies have been evaluated by ecologists and sociologists separately, their ability to simultaneously meet these two anticipated goals (i.e., environmental conservation and human development) at the fine spatial scale remains unclear. To answer this fundamental but crucial question, incorporating household and forest change data, we concurrently estimated the ecological and socioeconomic effects of two world-renowned Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs (i.e., the Nature Forest Conservation Program, the Grain to Green Program) and nature-based tourism in 30 protected areas across 8 provinces in China. Here we showed a trade-off between the ecological and economic effects of two PES programs, while synergistic effects exist in the ecological and economic benefits of tourism. Attributes of household and protected areas significantly influenced economic and environmental benefits as well. Our research provides new insights into the complex effects of PES programs and tourism, and crucial information to support their adequate and sustainable implementation in China and the rest of the world.

Significance Statement

This work answers a fundamental but crucial question, that is, whether the policies commonly advocated to incorporate environmental conservation and human development can yield positive effects both for conservation and economic development. Our evaluation is also timely to inform some shortness (i.e., negligible economic effects, or the lack of expected positive economic benefits) and provides new insights (e.g., the implication of households and protected-areas attributes in conservation and economic outcomes) of Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) programs and the complex effects of instruments in the context of multiple policies, particularly given the upcoming 2030 deadline for achieving the Sustainable Development goals (SDGs). We expected that implications in this study can provide important lessons for these two instruments, other PES programs, and other conservation and development instruments to support their adequate and sustainable implementation in China and beyond and to contribute to the achievement of relevant SDGs in the remaining years.

Open access