Joseph Fargione's research while affiliated with The Nature Conservancy and other places

Publications (101)

Article
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New land protection is expensive, and many conservation NGOs rely on loans to help fund land acquisition in the short term. Conservation loans are offered by a range of philanthropic organizations that often allow much more flexible terms than traditional loans. Thus, conservation loans may behave differently from other types of loan. There are cos...
Article
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Funding for protected areas is limited and recurrent costs associated with managing these sites must be considered in planning their acquisition. However, most conservation planning studies either ignore management costs or use snapshot estimates, even though they vary through time. We surveyed expenditures on management made over 15 years for 37 p...
Article
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To help avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, society needs to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. Wind energy provides a clean, renewable source of electricity; however, improperly sited wind facilities pose known threats to wildlife populations and contribute to degradation of natural habitats. To support a...
Article
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Major efforts are underway to harness the carbon sequestration capacity of forests to combat global climate change. However, tree damage and death associated with insect and disease disturbance can reduce this carbon sequestration capacity. We quantified average annual changes in live tree carbon accumulation associated with insect and disease dist...
Article
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Alongside the steep reductions needed in fossil fuel emissions, natural climate solutions (NCS) represent readily deployable options that can contribute to Canada’s goals for emission reductions. We estimate the mitigation potential of 24 NCS related to the protection, management, and restoration of natural systems that can also deliver numerous co...
Article
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Large-scale global reforestation goals have been proposed to help mitigate climate change and provide other ecosystem services. To explore reforestation potential in the United States, we used GIS analyses, surveys of nursery managers and foresters, and literature synthesis to assess the opportunities and challenges associated with meeting proposed...
Article
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Article Lower cost and more feasible options to restore forest cover in the contiguous United States for climate mitigation Graphical Abstract Highlights d Restoring forest cover in the US can be a cost-effective climate solution d New forest across 51.6 Mha could capture 314 MtCO 2 year À1 d We provide critical information to guide decisions about...
Article
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Degraded farmlands have been abandoned worldwide, especially in high- and middle-income countries. These lands help combat climate change as they undergo natural recovery of vegetation and soil carbon and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. However, recovery can be slow, requiring decades to centuries to approach pre-cultivation or natural s...
Article
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Mitigating climate change requires clean energy and the removal of atmospheric carbon. Building soil carbon is an appealing way to increase carbon sinks and reduce emissions owing to the associated benefits to agriculture. However, the practical implementation of soil carbon climate strategies lags behind the potential, partly because we lack clari...
Article
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Avoiding catastrophic climate change requires rapid decarbonization and improved ecosystem stewardship. To achieve the latter, ecosystems should be prioritized by responsiveness to direct, localized action and the magnitude and recoverability of their carbon stores. Here, we show that a range of ecosystems contain ‘irrecoverable carbon’ that is vul...
Preprint
Full-text available
To help avoid the most catastrophic effects of climate change, society needs to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. Wind energy provides a clean, renewable source of electricity; however, improperly sited wind facilities pose known threats to wildlife populations and contribute to degradation of natural habitats. To support a...
Article
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Flooding is the costliest form of natural disaster and impacts are expected to increase, in part, due to exposure of new development to flooding. However, these costs could be reduced through the acquisition and conservation of natural land in floodplains. Here we quantify the benefits and costs of reducing future flood damages in the United States...
Article
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Soil-based initiatives to mitigate climate change and restore soil fertility both rely on rebuilding soil organic carbon. Controversy about the role soils might play in climate change mitigation is, consequently, undermining actions to restore soils for improved agricultural and environmental outcomes.
Article
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The Cerrado biome in Brazil is a tropical savanna and an important global biodiversity hot spot. Today, only a fraction of its original area remains undisturbed, and this habitat is at risk of conversion to agriculture, especially to soybeans. Here, we present the first quantitative analysis of expanding the Soy Moratorium (SoyM) from the Brazilian...
Article
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We respond to concerns raised by Baldocchi and Penuelas who question the potential for ecosystems to provide carbon sinks and storage, and conclude that we should focus on decarbonizing our energy systems. While we agree with many of their concerns, we arrive at a different conclusion: we need strong action to advance both clean energy solutions an...
Data
Proportion of species distribution falling outside study region. (PDF)
Article
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Single species conservation unites disparate partners for the conservation of one species. However, there are widespread concerns that single species conservation biases conservation efforts towards charismatic species at the expense of others. Here we investigate the extent to which sage grouse (Centrocercus sp.) conservation, the largest public-p...
Data
Proportion of species distributions held within PACs, by taxon. (PDF)
Data
Species-area curves for the four Zonation scenarios. (PDF)
Data
Proportion of species distributions held within PACs. (PDF)
Data
Proportion of distribution at risk, by species. (PDF)
Data
Proportional coverage under Zonation scenarios, by species. (PDF)
Article
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Limiting climate warming to <2°C requires increased mitigation efforts, including land stewardship, whose potential in the United States is poorly understood. We quantified the potential of natural climate solutions (NCS)—21 conservation, restoration, and improved land management interventions on natural and agricultural lands—to increase carbon st...
Article
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Unprecedented rates of urbanization are changing our understanding of the ways in which children build connections to the natural world, including the importance of educational settings in affecting this relationship. In addition to influencing human-nature connection, greenspace around school grounds has been associated with benefits to students’...
Article
A hopeful vision of the future is a world in which both people and nature thrive, but there is little evidence to support the feasibility of such a vision. We used a global, spatially explicit, systems modeling approach to explore the possibility of meeting the demands of increased populations and economic growth in 2050 while simultaneously advanc...
Article
A different modeling approach fills large gaps in the U.S. government's flood risk estimates, revealing previously overlooked at-risk areas often surrounding small flood-prone streams.
Article
Policy guidelines for creating new protected areas commonly recommend larger protected areas be favored. We examine whether these recommendations are justified, providing the first evaluation of this question to use return-on-investment (ROI) methods that account for how protected area size influences multiple ecological benefits and the economic c...
Article
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Past attempts to estimate rainfall-driven flood risk across the US either have incomplete coverage, coarse resolution or use overly simplified models of the flooding process. In this paper, we use a new 30 m resolution model of the entire conterminous US with a 2D representation of flood physics to produce estimates of flood hazard, which match to...
Article
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Demand for high-volume, short duration water withdrawals could create water stress to aquatic organisms in Fayetteville Shale streams sourced for hydraulic fracturing fluids. We estimated potential water stress using permitted water withdrawal volumes and actual water withdrawals compared to monthly median, low, and high streamflows. Risk for biolo...
Article
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Conservation organizations must redouble efforts to protect habitat given continuing biodiversity declines. Prioritization of future areas for protection is hampered by disagreements over what the ecological targets of conservation should be. Here we test the claim that such disagreements will become less important as conservation moves away from p...
Article
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Better stewardship of land is needed to achieve the Paris Climate Agreement goal of holding warming to below 2 °C; however, confusion persists about the specific set of land stewardship options available and their mitigation potential. To address this, we identify and quantify "natural climate solutions" (NCS): 20 conservation, restoration , and im...
Article
Rapid growth in unconventional oil and gas (UOG) has produced jobs, revenue, and energy, but also concerns over spills and environmental risks. We assessed spill data from 2005 to 2014 at 31 481 UOG wells in Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania. We found 2-16% of wells reported a spill each year. Median spill volumes ranged from 0.5...
Article
Extraction of oil and gas from unconventional sources, such as shale, has dramatically increased over the past ten years, raising the potential for spills or releases of chemicals, waste materials, and oil and gas. We analyzed spill data associated with unconventional wells from Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota and Pennsylvania from 2005 to 2014,...
Article
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Protection of lands threatened with conversion to agriculture can reduce carbon emissions. Until recently, most climate change mitigation incentive programs for avoided conversion have focused on forested ecosystems. We applied the Avoided Conversion of Grasslands and Shrublands v.1.0 (ACoGS) methodology now available through the American Carbon Re...
Article
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Energy production in the United States for domestic use and export is predicted to rise 27% by 2040. We quantify projected energy sprawl (new land required for energy production) in the United States through 2040. Over 200,000 km² of additional land area will be directly impacted by energy development. When spacing requirements are included, over 8...
Article
Land-acquisition strategies employed by conservation organizations vary in their flexibility. Conservation-planning theory largely fails to reflect this by presenting models that are either extremely inflexible-parcel acquisitions are irreversible and budgets are fixed-or extremely flexible-previously acquired parcels can readily be sold. This latt...
Article
We examine the efficiency with which a suite of ecosystem services can be restored by different reforestation configurations. We use a spatial analysis to quantify the ecosystem service trade-offs and synergies of five equal-area, large-scale bottomland hardwood reforestation scenarios for a study area in the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Each refor...
Article
Bioenergy deployment offers significant potential for climate change mitigation, but also carries considerable risks. In this review, we bring together perspectives of various communities involved in the research and regulation of bioenergy deployment in the context of climate change mitigation: Land-use and energy experts, land-use and integrated...
Article
High yields are a priority in managing biomass for renewable energy, but the environmental impacts of various feedstocks and production systems should be equally considered. Mixed-species, perennial grasslands enrolled in conservation programs are being considered as a source of biomass for renewable energy. Conservation grasslands are crucial in s...
Article
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Perennial biomass from grasslands managed for conservation of soil and biodiversity can be harvested for bioenergy. Until now, the quantity and quality of harvestable biomass from conservation grasslands in Minnesota, USA, was not known, and the factors that affect bioenergy potential from these systems have not been identified. We measured biomass...
Article
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Payments for ecosystem services (PES) can improve environmental quality by aligning the incentives of individual landowners with societal interests in providing valuable ecosystem services such as carbon storage, water quality, flood control, and wildlife habitat. However, for this potential to be realized, many institutional details and technical...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Understanding belowground responses, such as bioavailability of soil nutrients, is an important component of ecosystem process research. Measuring in situ bioavailable soil nutrients can be difficult without disturbing study sites, and arid environments pose additional difficulty in capturing relative soil nutrient bio...
Conference Paper
Background/Question/Methods Marginal lands enrolled in state or federal conservation programs and planted with perennial grassland cover can serve as a source of bioenergy. Conservation grasslands are often composed of mixtures of native plants from various functional groups including warm- and cool-season grasses, legumes, and other forbs. These...
Article
Tallgrass prairie is the most endangered ecosystem in North America, with less than one percent of its original extent remaining. The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has restored over 9000 ha of crop and fallow lands adjacent to native prairie with a primary goal of buffering remnant prairies to maintain plant community composition and reduce invasion by...
Data
Assessment of bale weight variability for large round bales of biomass harvested from conservation grasslands. (DOCX)
Data
Equation to estimate theoretical ethanol conversion efficiency from sugar concentrations. (DOCX)
Data
Calibration statistics for NIRS prediction of forage characteristics and plant cell polysaccharides. (DOCX)
Data
Ten most frequently observed species and their average percent cover in sample quadrats. (DOCX)
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Calculations for estimating residential power production from conservation grasslands in SW Minnesota. (DOCX)
Article
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Drought reduces plant productivity, induces widespread plant mortality and limits the geographic distribution of plant species(1-7). As climates warm and precipitation patterns shift in the future(8,9), understanding the distribution of the diversity of plant drought tolerance is central to predicting future ecosystem function and resilience to cli...
Article
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Rising energy consumption in coming decades, combined with a changing energy mix, have the potential to increase the impact of energy sector water use on freshwater biodiversity. We forecast changes in future water use based on various energy scenarios and examine implications for freshwater ecosystems. Annual water withdrawn/manipulated would incr...
Article
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Wind energy offers the potential to reduce carbon emissions while increasing energy independence and bolstering economic development. However, wind energy has a larger land footprint per Gigawatt (GW) than most other forms of energy production and has known and predicted adverse effects on wildlife. The Northern Great Plains (NGP) is home both to s...
Article
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Nutrient addition to grasslands consistently causes species richness declines and productivity increases. Competition, particularly for light, is often assumed to produce this result. Using a long-term dataset from North American herbaceous plant communities, we tested whether height and clonal growth form together predict responses to fertilizatio...
Article
Biofuels could be an important energy source, but they compete with food for cropland. An analysis of current crop production suggests that increasing yields of biofuel crops on existing cropland could avoid agricultural expansion and its associated impacts.
Article
1. Community assembly theories predict that the success of invading species into a new community should be predictable by functional traits. Environmental filters could constrain the number of successful ecological strategies in a habitat, resulting in similar suites of traits between native and successfully invading species (convergence). Converse...
Article
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Wind energy, if improperly sited, can impact wildlife through direct mortality and habitat loss and fragmentation, in contrast to its environmental benefits in the areas of greenhouse gas, air quality, and water quality. Fortunately, risks to wildlife from wind energy may be alleviated through proper siting and mitigation offsets. Here we identify...