Ecosystem Service Tradeoff Analysis Reveals the Value of Marine Spatial Planning for Multiple Ocean Uses

PNASPNAS, March 20, 2012 vol. 109 no. 12 4696-4701

Crow White, Benjamin S. Halpern, and Carrie V. Kappel

“Marine spatial planning (MSP) is an emerging responsibility of resource managers around the United States and elsewhere. A key proposed advantage of MSP is that it makes tradeoffs in resource use and sector (stakeholder group) values explicit, but doing so requires tools to assess tradeoffs. We extended tradeoff analyses from economics to simultaneously assess multiple ecosystem services and the values they provide to sectors using a robust, quantitative, and transparent framework. We used the framework to assess potential conflicts among offshore wind energy, commercial fishing, and whale-watching sectors in Massachusetts and identify and quantify the value from choosing optimal wind farm designs that minimize conflicts among these sectors. Most notably, we show that using MSP over conventional planning could prevent >$1 million dollars in losses to the incumbent fishery and whale-watching sectors and could generate >$10 billion in extra value to the energy sector. The value of MSP increased with the greater the number of sectors considered and the larger the area under management. Importantly, the framework can be applied even when sectors are not measured in dollars (e.g., conservation). Making tradeoffs explicit improves transparency in decision-making, helps avoid unnecessary conflicts attributable to perceived but weak tradeoffs, and focuses debate on finding the most efficient solutions to mitigate real tradeoffs and maximize sector values. Our analysis demonstrates the utility, feasibility, and value of MSP and provides timely support for the management transitions needed for society to address the challenges of an increasingly crowded ocean environment. ”

A Spatio-temporal Analysis of Fire Recurrence and Extent for Semi-arid Savanna Ecosystems in Southern Africa using Moderate-resolution Satellite Imagery

Journal of Environmental ManagementJournal of Environmental Management, Volume 100, 15 June 2012, Pages 72–85

Narcisa G. Pricope and Michael W. Binford


  • We analyze changes in fire regimes over the last decade in southern Africa.
  • We compare changes in fire frequencies, seasonality, and area burned annually.
  • We apply the analyses to five countries with different land uses and management.
  • We find significant increases in fire frequencies in all land-use categories.
  • These results are in line with drying trends in southern Africa.

“Savanna ecosystems are semi-arid and fire-prone. Increasing temperatures and decreasing precipitation in Southern Africa will probably have a series of strong impacts on the various components of fire regimes in these ecosystems that will, in turn, affect their ecology, structure, and function. This paper presents a geospatial analysis to quantify changes in fire frequency, seasonality and spatial distribution during the last decade and creates a fire return interval map for the core area of the Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area, which spans five Southern African countries and is the largest cooperative multistate conservation region in the world. To disentangle the relative contribution of environmental variability from country-specific land management decisions in driving changes in fire regimes, we use two different products from the MODIS Terra platform (Active Fire and Burned Area products), TRMM precipitation data and the Multivariate ENSO Index data to analyze change in fire regimes among the five countries, differentiating between different land uses such as protected areas, forest reserves, and communal lands and accounting for specific changes in fire management policies. There are significant differences in fire frequencies between countries with more effective fire management (Botswana and Zimbabwe) and countries where anthropogenic, mainly early-dry season, burning is largely uncontrolled (Namibia, Angola, and Zambia), both within and outside protected areas, while all countries and land-use units show an overall increasing trend in fire occurrences. Large fire occurrences increased up to 200% in the period before the beginning of the natural fire season in Namibia, where a new prescribed burn policy was introduced in 2006, while the other countries show a slightly different shift in seasonality of increasing fire occurrences mainly during the dry season. The mean size of fires also increases significantly across all land uses despite increasing fire prevention efforts in most protected areas in the five countries. These findings can contribute to more effective transboundary natural resource and wildlife habitat management by providing a baseline assessment of fire return intervals across five countries with different fire management policies and have implications in the climate change arena.”

Managing Concurrent and Repeated Risks: Explaining the Reductions in Opium Production in Central Helmand Between 2008 and 2011

Managing Concurrent and Repeated Risks: Explaining the Reductions in Opium Production in Central Helmand Between 2008 and 2011 Published by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, August 2011

David Mansfield

“This paper seeks to explore what factors have driven recent reductions in poppy cultivation in Helmand and how sustainable they are. It finds that while household concerns about food security because of high wheat prices were key in driving down poppy cultivation between 2008 and 2009, the coercive power of the Afghan state and international military forces has been significant in determining levels of cultivation in central Helmand in 2010 and 2011. Sustainability of these effects will vary among different communities.

Eradication delivery by year and force on ten year double cropping ability

Eradication delivery by year and force on ten year double cropping ability

“Broadly speaking, this research suggests that reductions in poppy cultivation are:

  • most sustainable among communities close to urban centres with access to diverse income opportunities, government support programmes and better security;
  • least sustainable among communities that have responded to the government’s poppy ban but lack viable alternatives and remain exposed to violence and intimidation by both sides in the conflict;
  • and non-existent among a growing number of communities in the desert north of the Boghra Canal where opium production has provided the means to own and cultivate land, and the Taliban is increasingly seen to provide a relatively secure environment for households to secure income and accumulate assets.”

Read the paper [PDF]

Spatially Explicit Analysis of Metal Transfer to Biota: Influence of Soil Contamination and Landscape

PLoS ONE, Published 31 May 2011

Clémentine Fritsch, Michaël Cœurdassier, Patrick Giraudoux, Francis Raoul, Francis Douay, Dominique Rieffel, Annette de Vaufleury, and Renaud Scheifler

“Concepts and developments for a new field in ecotoxicology, referred to as “landscape ecotoxicology,” were proposed in the 1990s; however, to date, few studies have been developed in this emergent field. In fact, there is a strong interest in developing this area, both for renewing the concepts and tools used in ecotoxicology as well as for responding to practical issues, such as risk assessment. The aim of this study was to investigate the spatial heterogeneity of metal bioaccumulation in animals in order to identify the role of spatially explicit factors, such as landscape as well as total and extractable metal concentrations in soils.

Iso-concentration lines of predicted total Cd, Pb and Zn concentrations in topsoils from Metaleurop-impacted area.

Iso-concentration lines of predicted total Cd, Pb and Zn concentrations in topsoils from Metaleurop-impacted area.

“Over a smelter-impacted area, we studied the accumulation of trace metals (TMs: Cd, Pb and Zn) in invertebrates (the grove snail Cepaea sp and the glass snail Oxychilus draparnaudi) and vertebrates (the bank vole Myodes glareolus and the greater white-toothed shrew Crocidura russula). Total and CaCl2-extractable concentrations of TMs were measured in soils from woody patches where the animals were captured. TM concentrations in animals exhibited a high spatial heterogeneity. They increased with soil pollution and were better explained by total rather than CaCl2-extractable TM concentrations, except in Cepaea sp. TM levels in animals and their variations along the pollution gradient were modulated by the landscape, and this influence was species and metal specific. Median soil metal concentrations (predicted by universal kriging) were calculated in buffers of increasing size and were related to bioaccumulation. The spatial scale at which TM concentrations in animals and soils showed the strongest correlations varied between metals, species and landscapes. The potential underlying mechanisms of landscape influence (community functioning, behaviour, etc.) are discussed. Present results highlight the need for the further development of landscape ecotoxicology and multi-scale approaches, which would enhance our understanding of pollutant transfer and effects in ecosystems.”

Risk Analysis of Rainstorm Waterlogging on Residences in Shanghai based on Scenario Simulation

Natural HazardsNatural Hazards, Published Online 02 March 2012

Yong Shi

“Due to special geographical location and climate, the waterlogging has always been one of the most serious hazards in Shanghai. Residences in the inner city are prone to be damaged by waterlogging hazards. This paper describes the risk analysis of rainstorm waterlogging on residences in Shanghai. First, a rainstorm scenario of 50-year return period was simulated with the rainstorm simulation model from Shanghai Flood Risk Information Center. Each residence was ranked according to its degree of exposure indicated by the inundation depth of that residence, and an exposure analysis model was then built. It is found from the exposure analysis that residences in the sub-districts like Linfen Road, Pengpu Village, Gonghe New Village, Hongqiao Road, Xianxia Road, Xinhua Road, and Zhenru Town are at high-exposure level. Whereas residences in other sub-districts like Gaojing Town, Siping Road, Huaihai Road, Yuyuan, Waitan, Caojiadu, Nanjing East Road, etc. are at low-exposure level. Second, given the characteristics of residences in waterlogging, the vulnerability of residences was expressed as the proportion of old-style residences to total residences. The results show that residences in Yuyuan, Xiaodongmen, Waitan, Nanjing East Road, Laoximen, Zhapu Road, North Station, and Tilanqiao are the most vulnerable ones, while there is no vulnerability in Fenglin Road, Kongjiang Road, Liangcheng New Village, Quyang Road, Siping Road, and Xianxia Road due to the absence of old-style residences. Finally, a model has been built from a systematic perspective and then waterlogging risk analysis was quantified by multiplying the exposure value with vulnerability value of residences. The results reveal that Laoximen, Tilanqiao, Dinghai Road, North Station, Tianping Road, Hongmei Road, Hunan Road, and Xiaodongmen are at high-risk level. The systemic risk model is a simple tool that can be used to assess the relative risk of waterlogging in different regions and the results of risk analysis are applicable to prevention and mitigation of waterlogging for Shanghai Municipal Government.”

A Spatial Cluster Analysis of Tractor Overturns in Kentucky from 1960 to 2002

PLoS ONE, Published 24 January 2012

Daniel M. Saman, Henry P. Cole, Agricola Odoi, Melvin L. Myers, Daniel I. Carey, and Susan C. Westneat

“Background: Agricultural tractor overturns without rollover protective structures are the leading cause of farm fatalities in the United States. To our knowledge, no studies have incorporated the spatial scan statistic in identifying high-risk areas for tractor overturns. The aim of this study was to determine whether tractor overturns cluster in certain parts of Kentucky and identify factors associated with tractor overturns.

Spatial Empirical Bayes' (SEB) smoothed tractor overturn rates in Kentucky, 1960–2002.

Spatial Empirical Bayes' (SEB) smoothed tractor overturn rates in Kentucky, 1960–2002.

“Methods: A spatial statistical analysis using Kulldorff’s spatial scan statistic was performed to identify county clusters at greatest risk for tractor overturns. A regression analysis was then performed to identify factors associated with tractor overturns.

“Results: The spatial analysis revealed a cluster of higher than expected tractor overturns in four counties in northern Kentucky (RR = 2.55) and 10 counties in eastern Kentucky (RR = 1.97). Higher rates of tractor overturns were associated with steeper average percent slope of pasture land by county (p = 0.0002) and a greater percent of total tractors with less than 40 horsepower by county (p<0.0001).

“Conclusions: This study reveals that geographic hotspots of tractor overturns exist in Kentucky and identifies factors associated with overturns. This study provides policymakers a guide to targeted county-level interventions (e.g., roll-over protective structures promotion interventions) with the intention of reducing tractor overturns in the highest risk counties in Kentucky.”

Spatial Analysis of Land Cover Determinants of Malaria Incidence in the Ashanti Region, Ghana

PLoS ONEPLoS ONE 6(3), Published 23 March 2011

Anne Caroline Krefis, Norbert Georg Schwarz, Bernard Nkrumah, Samuel Acquah, Wibke Loag, Jens Oldeland, Nimako Sarpong, Yaw Adu-Sarkodie, Ulrich Ranft, and Jürgen May

“Malaria belongs to the infectious diseases with the highest morbidity and mortality worldwide. As a vector-borne disease malaria distribution is strongly influenced by environmental factors. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between malaria risk and different land cover classes by using high-resolution multispectral Ikonos images and Poisson regression analyses. The association of malaria incidence with land cover around 12 villages in the Ashanti Region, Ghana, was assessed in 1,988 children <15 years of age. The median malaria incidence was 85.7 per 1,000 inhabitants and year (range 28.4–272.7). Swampy areas and banana/plantain production in the proximity of villages were strong predictors of a high malaria incidence. An increase of 10% of swampy area coverage in the 2 km radius around a village led to a 43% higher incidence (relative risk [RR] = 1.43, p<0.001). Each 10% increase of area with banana/plantain production around a village tripled the risk for malaria (RR = 3.25, p<0.001). An increase in forested area of 10% was associated with a 47% decrease of malaria incidence (RR = 0.53, p = 0.029).

Supervised maximum likelihood classification map

Supervised maximum likelihood classification map (combined NDVI image, the texture bands, and the four spectral bands).

“Distinct cultivation in the proximity of homesteads was associated with childhood malaria in a rural area in Ghana. The analyses demonstrate the usefulness of satellite images for the prediction of malaria endemicity. Thus, planning and monitoring of malaria control measures should be assisted by models based on geographic information systems.”