Why Rangelands: The Central Valley of California, the surrounding foothills and the interior Coast Range include over 18 million acres of grassland. Most of this land is privately owned and managed for livestock production. Because grasslands are found in some of California’s fastest-growing counties, they are severely threatened by land conversion and development. In addition climate change stresses grasslands by potentially changing water availability and species distributions.
Maintaining a ranching landscape can greatly support biodiversity conservation in the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC) region. In addition ranches generate multiple ecosystem services—defined as human benefits provided by natural ecosystems—that carry considerable economic value, including livestock production, drinking and irrigation water, and carbon sequestration.
The Threat Assessment: We developed six scenarios organized around our management question: How can we maintain viable ranchland and their ecosystem services in light of future integrated threats? The scenarios represent alternative futures of climate/land use/hydrological change for the California Rangeland Conservation Coalition (Rangeland Coalition) focus area (the foothills around the Central Valley and most of the southern Inner Coast Range)
We used these scenarios to quantify and map three main rangeland ecosystem services—wildlife habitat, water supply, and carbon sequestration. The resulting website provides a visualization tool to view changes in these ecosystem services across scenarios and years. The tool includes the following maps:
Change in the percentage of watershed area with critical habitat relative to 2010Percent change in grassland soil carbon sequestration potentialPercent change in climatic water deficit relative to the 1981-2010 climate periodRatio of recharge to runoff for three 30-year climate periodsWater-Wildlife Hotspots: areas where changes in water availability (recharge plus runoff) and loss of critical habitat coincideAverage percent change in multiple ecosystem services from 2010 to 2040
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