Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/1669
Appears in Collections:Economics Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: Economic determinants of biodiversity change over a 400-year period in the Scottish uplands
Authors: Hanley, Nicholas
Davies, Althea
Angelopoulos, Konstantinos
Hamilton, Alastair
Ross, Alasdair
Tinch, Dugald
Watson, Fiona
Contact Email: n.d.hanley@stir.ac.uk
Keywords: biodiversity
economic drivers
ecology
history
Scotland
Uplands
interdisciplinary
pollen analysis
Issue Date: Dec-2008
Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell / British Ecological Society
Citation: Hanley N, Davies A, Angelopoulos K, Hamilton A, Ross A, Tinch D & Watson F (2008) Economic determinants of biodiversity change over a 400-year period in the Scottish uplands, Journal of Applied Ecology, 45 (6), pp. 1557-1565.
Abstract: 1. Economic forces are recognized as an important driving factor behind current biodiversity losses. This study investigates whether such factors have been important in determining one measure of biodiversity change over the 'long run'– in our case, 400 years – for upland sites in Scotland. 2. A combination of palaeoecological, historical and economic methods is used to construct and then analyse a database of factors contributing to changes in plant diversity over time for 11 upland sites. 3. Using an instrumental variables panel model, we find livestock prices, our proxy for grazing pressure, to be a statistically significant determinant of diversity change, with higher grazing pressures resulting in lower diversity values on average, although site abandonment is also found to result in a fall in plant diversity. Technological change, such as the introduction of new animal breeds, was not found to be a statistically significant determinant. 4. Using later period data (post 1860) on livestock numbers at the parish (local) level, we were able to confirm the main result noted above (3) in terms of the effects of higher grazing pressures on plant diversity. 5. Synthesis and applications. This study shows how data from very different disciplines can be combined to address questions relevant to contemporary conservation and understanding. This novel, interdisciplinary approach provides new insights into the role of economic factors as a driver of biodiversity loss in the uplands. Biodiversity levels have varied considerably over 400 years, partly as a function of land management, suggesting that establishing baselines or 'natural' target levels for biodiversity is likely to be problematic. Changes in livestock grazing pressures brought about by changes in prices had statistically significant effects on estimated plant diversity, as did land abandonment. This suggests that long-term management of upland areas for the conservation of diversity should focus on grazing pressures as a key policy attribute. Another policy implication is that drastic cuts in grazing pressures – such as might occur under current reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy – can have adverse biodiversity consequences.
Type: Journal Article
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1893/1669
URL: http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/121448195/abstract
DOI Link: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2664.2008.01570.x
Rights: The publisher does not allow this work to be made publicly available in this Repository. Please use the Request a Copy feature at the foot of the Repository record to request a copy directly from the author; you can only request a copy if you wish to use this work for your own research or private study.
Affiliation: Economics
University of Stirling
University of Glasgow
University of Stirling
University of Glasgow
Economics
University of Dundee

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