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Title: Complex Effects of Telecouplings on Forest Dynamics: An Agent-Based Modeling Approach

Rural areas are increasingly subject to the effects of telecouplings (socioeconomic and environmental interactions over distances) whereby their human and natural dynamics are linked to socioeconomic and environmental drivers operating far away, such as the growing demand for labor and ecosystem services in cities. Although there have been many studies evaluating the effects of telecouplings, telecouplings in those studies were often investigated separately, and how telecouplings may interact and affect dynamics of rural coupled human and natural systems (CHANS) jointly was rarely evaluated. In this study, we developed an agent-based model and simulated the impacts of two globally common telecouplings, nature-based tourism and labor migration, on forest dynamics of a rural CHANS, China’s Wolong Nature Reserve (Wolong). Nature-based tourism and labor migration can facilitate forest recovery, and the predicted forest areas in Wolong in 2030 would be reduced by 26.2 km2(6.8%) and 23.9 km2(6.2%), respectively, without their effects. However, tourism development can significantly reduce the probability of local households to have member(s) outmigrate to work in cities and decrease the positive impact of labor migration on forest recovery. Our simulations show that the interaction between tourism and labor migration can reduce the potential forest recovery by 3.5 km2(5.0%) in 2030. Our study highlights that interactions among different telecouplings can generate significant impacts on socioeconomic and environmental outcomes and should be jointly considered in the design, management, and evaluation of telecouplings for achieving sustainable development goals.

Significance Statement

Rural areas are increasingly connected with other places through telecouplings, such as tourism and labor migration. However, telecouplings’ effects were often evaluated separately, and their interaction remains poorly understood. In this study, we evaluated how two globally common telecouplings, tourism and labor migration, jointly affect forest dynamics in a demonstration site using an agent-based modeling approach. Although both tourism and labor migration can benefit forest conservation, we found that their interaction generates an antagonistic effect: households’ involvement in tourism activities reduces their probability to have members outmigrate to work in cities and significantly diminishes the beneficial impact of labor migration on forest recovery. Our study highlights the importance of considering interaction among telecouplings in the management of telecouplings for sustainability.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Earth Interactions
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 15-27
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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