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Cycle 8 (2019 Deadline)

Incorporating relationships between ecosystem integrity and people’s livelihoods for conservation action planning in Tropical Dry Forest

PI: Susana Rodríguez-Buriticá (, Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute, in partnership with Universidad Nacional de Colombia
U.S. Partner: Andrew Hansen, Montana State University
Project Dates: January 2020 - June 2022

Project Overview:
8-221_Dry forest group 
Dry forest group. Photo credit:  Instituto Humboldt 
Photo credit: Felipe Villegas 
Despite recent improvements in the availability of basic ecological information on Dry Tropical Forest (DTF) remnants in Colombia, high-impact conservation and sustainable land management strategies are still elusive. This is in part due to the lack of a comprehensive narrative connecting our ecological knowledge with the economic consequences of DTF degradation. This project will address two major knowledge gaps about DTF in Colombia. First, current basic research does not have a good characterization of DTF ecological degradation; specifically, forest degradation in terms of attributes that could be relevant for ecosystem services (ES) provision. Second, despite previous study of the ecological and socioeconomic aspects of DTF, no previous effort has aimed to integrate available information to produce a comprehensive understanding of the role of DTF for local communities, as well as the cost-benefits associated with DTF degradation and loss. Analyses of information have been limited by project-specific commitments and fall short in using sophisticated analytical tools to construct such a narrative. By translating the ecological impacts of DTF degradation on ES and cost-benefit valuations, this PEER team aims to provide powerful tools to negotiate DTF protection and restoration at the local levels.

The goal of the project is to integrate scalable information from contrasting DTF territories with nationwide integrity indicators and to improve models for ES supply dynamics and their economic assessments. Site-specific information for the project will come from two large current DTF projects supported by other sponsors that have explored the links between (1) multi-level biodiversity indicators and DTF degradation in nine watersheds and (2) DTF degradation, ecosystem processes, and ES supply in four watersheds, with only two with socioeconomic information. Both projects are based on forest ecological condition assessments that do not incorporate land management history and only consider forest extent, not forest structure or overall integrity.

PI Dr. Rodríguez and her PEER team will (1) evaluate the congruence between forest degradation, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning and ES under contrasting socioecological contexts; (2) assess the role of landscape management history on the dynamic of forest and ecosystem degradation; and (3) use ecosystem valuation and cost-benefit analyses to assess relationships among alternative management practices. This PEER-supported project will update analyses and models to improve data integration, scalability, and applicability of results to other DTF contexts by using sub-products from several ongoing U.S. Government-funded projects that will improve landscape and forest degradation assessments, thereby generating stronger evidence-based, high-impact products with nationwide pertinence.

Project activity updates

During July-October 2021 reporting period the project continued to advance its three objectives. Several new collaborations were also established. 

For the first objective, which is to integrate biodiversity and remote sensing information to explore the congruence between different metrics of forest degradation, the team's collaborators at Norther Arizona University provided updated version of remote sense products, which will be incorporated into the biodiversity analyses and the land management component. Two components were provided, updated version of the canopy height and the updated version of the fragmentation layer (25m). In addition, the team advanced in generalizing the script of analyses for biodiversity estimators. This will allow a faster processing of biodiversity information from several groups to explore congruence with the full database of biodiversity collections. In addition, one of the students participating in the project advance towards the completion of her undergraduate thesis with analyses of ecosystem processes across watersheds.  The team established two new collaborations. One with Zorayda Fagardo at the UNDP-Colombia country office, the other with Ingeobosques, a company working in the Tolima region. They also closely collaborated with Ana Carolina Santos the ecohydrologist at Humboldt to refine their InVest water provision models. The first collaboration provided information from the Caribbean region, product of the GEF project on Dry Tropical Forest. The second, is going to collect local information for wood consumption in the Tolima area. This information will be use in the economic valuation of wood provision for this area. The final collaboration was established to evaluate the InVest water provision models.

In terns of the second objective, which is to explore land use management practices and incorporate those on analyses of DTF degradation, the team had to re-direct the analyses to reduce dimensionality and specify a testable set of hypotheses because the first set of models were not statistically suitable. The project team had to break the dataset and turn to ordination analyses to define a clean set of variables to re-build the Structural Equation Models. This step was discussed in a series of meetings with the Advisory Committee during which the team presented preliminary correlation analyses by the adjusted analyses areas 
For the final objective, which is to produce a series of ecosystem provision model reflecting forest state at different socio-economic-political context at the national level, the team finished the InVest models for water with a calibration using water provision information at a large scale and define the scenarios to explore water provision sensitivity to forest degradation. The team decided to use only the annual water supply model. The seasonal model includes several assumptions about recharge dynamics that made them unfeasible for our scale and areas of analyses. The project team discussed and defined the scenarios that will be useful for water provision economic evaluations. These evaluations will be run initially for Tolima and Bolivar, which are the areas with more socio-economic information at the scale of the analyses.  
Finally, during November, the project team planned to join a team from Humboldt in an outreach trip through the Caribbean region with the objective to present preliminary results of the analyses to Environmental Regional Authorities (CAR-in Spanish). These are regional autonomous authorities that regulate the use of natural resources (equivalent to regional EPA offices in the US). Given the limitations the team had to conduct field work, this outreach tour will be an opportunity to discuss with local authorities the potential uses of the workflow and results in their projects. This tour is organized, among other Humboldt researchers, with Maria C. Londoño the project coordinator for PEER-Cycle 7 Project.

Twitter account: @inst_humboldt
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