Global forecasts of urban expansion to 2030 and direct impacts on biodiversity and carbon pools

Setoa, K.C. and Güneralpa, B. and Hutyrac, L.R. (2012) Global forecasts of urban expansion to 2030 and direct impacts on biodiversity and carbon pools. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 109 (40). pp. 16083-16088.

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Urban land-cover change threatens biodiversity and affects ecosystem productivity through loss of habitat, biomass, and carbon storage. However, despite projections that world urban populations will increase to nearly 5 billion by 2030, little is known about future locations, magnitudes, and rates of urban expansion. Here we develop spatially explicit probabilistic forecasts of global urban land-cover change and explore the direct impacts on biodiversity hotspots and tropical carbon biomass. If current trends in population density continue and all areas with high probabilities of urban expansion undergo change, then by 2030, urban land cover will increase by 1.2 million km2, nearly tripling the global urban land area circa 2000. This increase would result in considerable loss of habitats in key biodiversity hotspots, with the highest rates of forecasted urban growth to take place in regions that were relatively undisturbed by urban development in 2000: the Eastern Afromontane, the Guinean Forests of West Africa, and the Western Ghats and Sri Lanka hotspots. Within the pan-tropics, loss in vegetation biomass from areas with high probability of urban expansion is estimated to be 1.38 PgC (0.05 PgC yr−1), equal to ∼5% of emissions from tropical deforestation and land-use change. Although urbanization is often considered a local issue, the aggregate global impacts of projected urban expansion will require significant policy changes to affect future growth trajectories to minimize global biodiversity and vegetation carbon losses.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: We thank Gil Pontius for providing the source code for the land change model, GEOMOD, Alessandro Baccini for use of the pan-tropic biomass data, and the Texas A&M Supercomputing Facility for providing computational resources.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Urban expansion, biodiversity, carbon pools, 2030
Author Affiliation: Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale University Department of Geography, Texas A&M University Department of Geography and Environment, Boston University
Subjects: Atmosperic Science > Meterology
Environmental Science
Divisions: General
Depositing User: Mr Arbind Seth
Date Deposited: 07 Oct 2012 13:44
Last Modified: 07 Oct 2012 13:44
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