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LCLUC SYNTHESIS: Forested Land Cover and Land Use Change in the Far East of the Northern Eurasia Under the Combined Drivers of Climate and Socio-Economic Transformation

a PSC Research Project

Investigators:   Kathleen Mary Bergen, Daniel G. Brown, Josh Newell

In response to the Synthesis component of the 2010 solicitation for the Land Cover Land Use Change (LCLUC) program, we will focus on combining previously developed knowledge and methodologies to produce a coherent quantification of forest cover change over a broad region of the Northern Eurasian Far East over the past 30 years. Our principal objective of this synthesis is to quantify and attribute changes in land-use and land-cover to climatic variability and socio- economic drivers between northeastern China and southeastern Russia. The abrupt changes in economic growth trajectories in Russian and China over the past 30 years and the region?s importance in forest resources, carbon and biodiversity make this area of particular interest as a hot-spot of change and a focus area of conflicting economic interests. We will synthesize these drivers and their land-cover changes over past and emerging socio-economic areas. The Russian and Chinese areas in the study region present contrasts in human land use policies operating on similar landscapes at different eras in their recent history. Comparisons of pre- and post-Soviet era forested land and quality of forest resources in Siberia highlighted a significant impact of different forest management practices. The transition from the Soviet system, an ongoing process of economic re-structuring, and proximity to vast markets for timber in China (the world's second largest wood importer) have led to an increase in legal and illegal logging on the Russian side. Chinese forestry policy has also undergone extensive changes with first market liberalization and then the establishment of the Natural Forest Conservation Program in 1998 which has forest restoration and protection from excessive harvest as two of its main goals. The evolution of the institutional framework for the forestry sector in both countries makes this study, which incorporates modeling and remotely sensed data with available socio- economic data, critical in its ability to provide answers from multiple scenarios in terms of the evolving economics and state of the forests. We will build this synthesis research squarely on previously funded by NASA and other related programs This research project will have several distinct components: (1) Synthesizing local and small-regional Landsat-based case studies previously funded by NASA, (2) Mapping change in the extent of the land cover and forest composition from the MODIS data applying the past disturbance reconstruction approach recently developed for the region, (3) Disentangling the impact of climatic change on forest composition and characteristics using the individual based forest gap model FAREAST to identify potential vegetation composition under different climate scenarios in combination with observed rates of disturbances, and (4) Attributing forest characteristics to changing forest policies in Russia and China over the past 30 years, using a systems dynamics model to integrate and illustrate the impact of these policies. Our proposal team includes a diverse group of scientists with a broad range of expertise required to carry out the proposed study. PI Bergen (UMich) and lead institutional Co-Is Shugart (UVA) and Loboda (UMD) bring significant experience and involvement in management of similar large projects, including those in the study region of this proposed synthesis. Bergen and Co-Is Loboda and Sun (UMD) will lead Landsat and MODIS data processing. Shugart and post-doc Shuman (UVA) bring the modeling expertise within the FAREAST modeling framework. Co-I Brown (UMich) will bring spatial and temporal modeling experience. We will capitalize on the expertise of Co-I Newell (UMich) and Consultant Hitztaler who both have lived in the region and have extensive access to Russian and Chinese socio-economic datasets; they will be assisted by Russian and Chinese social scientists collaborators Blam (Russia), Pang (China) and Yan (China). Consultant Krankina (OSU) will suppor

Funding Period: 01/06/2012 to 01/05/2017

Countries of Focus: China, Russia

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