Land use in areas near or adjacent to protected areas can influence the success of protected areas as a conservation method. The USGS Western Geographic Science Center developed a methodology to assess the threat of future land use conversions to California’s protected areas under different climate/emission scenarios. Utilizing spatially explicit, annual, scenario-based projections of land use and land cover (LULC) from 2006 to 2100 produced by the USGS LandCarbon project (based on data sources derived from the Landsat archive), we examined scenario outcomes at the state level and by conversion type. We determined the amount of protected area for each of California's unique ecoregions and mapped the footprint of projected LULC change per scenario. Conversion potential was examined spatially against protected areas to identify potential threats to existing protected areas. Variability between scenario outcomes enabled the identification of ecoregions particularly susceptible to LULC change pressures. Identification of protected areas in close proximity to lands with a high likelihood of future conversion can help prioritize future conservation efforts.
Map of California land use conversion potential based on land use and land cover change scenario agreement.