Fri 21 Apr 2017: 10.30am (*time change*) @ S1-03-02 CR2 – Zhang Yuchen on “Modelling of cropland expansion and its effects on biodiversity in Myanmar”

Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore
Qualifying Exam

“Modelling of cropland expansion and its effects on biodiversity”

By Zhang Yuchen
Graduate Student, Dept. of Biological Sciences, NUS
Friday 21 April 2017: 10.30am | S1-03-02 – Conference Room-II (S1, Level 3, mezzanine)(*note the time change*) 
Supervisor: Asst Prof Carrasco T, L Roman

Abstract – While the world population is expected to exceed 9 billion by 2050, global crop demand is projected to increase by 100-110%. Demand for food is rising in tandem with a growing population, and accelerated by contaminant diet changes. Agricultural expansion is one of the common ways to meet this increasing food demand but it is also a major global driver of deforestation. With increasing world market integration, demand for new land is likely to be concentrated in tropical developing nations that have large areas of land suitable for agriculture. However, these are also areas in the early stages of forest transition and that have high conservation importance. In the face of these rising pressures, spatially explicit predictions of future demand for agricultural land could play a critical role in guiding conservation efforts to conserve key biodiversity areas.

Many forests have so far been spared due to inaccessibility, possibly due to lack of infrastructure and political and economic constraints on investment. For instance, recent political and economic liberalization in Myanmar is expected to remove some of these constraints and lead to increased investment into agriculture and thus increased risk of deforestation. In order to protect Myanmar’s rich biodiversity, we urgently need to predict areas at highest risk of deforestation with a view to designing a robust network of protected areas. Therefore, Myanmar could be used as a case study to model cropland expansion and its effects on biodiversity before modelling global cropland expansion and its environmental impacts.

I thus aim to 1) investigate how cropland in Myanmar would expand after political and economic reforms and its influence on the Key Biodiversity Areas; 2) project how global cropland would expand temporally and spatially and examine its biodiversity consequences; 3) map spatially-explicit global conservation economic cost based on forgone agricultural rent; 4) prioritize human-centered global conservation resource allocation facing increasing food demand and projected cropland expansion.


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