Dr Graeme Buchanan

Head of International, Conservation Science

Background

I lead the International Conservation Science team at RSPB’s Centre for Conservation Science, the work of whom covers research into marine conservation, threatened species on UK Overseas territories, Gola in west Africa, forest conservation and commodities, global land use, nature based solutions and mitigation of climate change, Afro-Palearctic migrants, conservation of Asian vultures, international conventions including CBD, site based conservation including Key Biodiversity Areas and conservation priority setting.

We work in close collaboration with other teams in the Centre for Conservation Science, teams across RSPB and Birdlife International, and a wide range of academic institutions in the UK and globally.

External Activities

  • Associate Editor of Bird Conservation International and Remote Sensinf for Ecology and Conservation
  • British Ornithologist Union Council 2015 - 2019
  • Key Biodiversity Area Technical Working Group
  • RZSS Conservation Committee

Contact

Graeme Buchanan

Dr Graeme Buchanan

Head of International, Conservation Science

Scotland Headquarters, 2 Lochside View, Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh, EH12 9DH

graeme.buchanan@rspb.org.uk

Research Gate

Specialisms

Agriculture Ecosystem services International species New methods and technologies Tropical forests

Selected Publications

The impact of tree loss on carbon management in West Africa

This study quantifies the amount of carbon stored and sequestered by vegetation in west Africa, carbon loss due to tree cover loss, and the potential natural sequestration relative to projected carbon emissions in 2030. GIS analysis of published data on vegetation biomass, tree cover, sequestration by vegetation and soil carbon indicate that vegetation and soil held 38,855 Mt of carbon in 2010, most of which was in above and below ground vegetation. The loss of 58,353 km2 (9%) of tree cover between 2010 and 2018 resulted in the loss of 672 Mt of 14,923 Mt carbon in vegetation. Key Biodiversity Areas, (sites of conservation importance), covered 7.4% of land but in 2010 contained 16% of carbon stored in vegetation. Trees sequestered between 23.6 and 53.6 Mt of carbon in 2018 (17% of which was in Key Biodiversity Areas). Restoration of the tree cover lost in west Africa between 2010 and 2018 could sequester an additional 27.5 Mt of carbon per annum during the first 30 years of growth. Our estimates indicate a combination of conservation and restoration of tree cover could sequester the equivalent of c.30% of projected 2030 regional emissions, contributing significantly towards mitigating climate change.

Date
23 November 2021
RSPB Authors
Dr Graeme Buchanan, Dr Rob Field, Dr Richard Bradbury
Authors
Buchanan, Graeme M Field, Rob H Bradbury, Richard B Luraschi, Beatriz Vickery, Juliet A
Published in
Carbon Management
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The potential contribution of terrestrial nature-based solutions to a national ‘net zero’ climate target

Many national governments have incorporated nature-based solutions (NbS) in their plans to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions. However, uncertainties persist regarding both feasibility and consequences of major NbS deployment. Using the United Kingdom as a national-level case study, we examined the potential contribution of three terrestrial NbS: peatland restoration, saltmarsh creation and woodland creation.

While there is substantial political and societal interest in these three NbS, they also have strong potential for competition with other land uses, which will be a critical barrier to substantial deployment. We conducted a national mapping exercise to assess the potential area available for woodland creation. We then assessed the combined climate change mitigation potential to 2100 for the three NbS options under a range of ambition levels.

In line with the most ambitious targets examined, 2 Mha of land is potentially available for new woodland. However, climate change mitigation benefits of woodland are strongly dependent on management choices. By 2100, scenarios with a greater proportion of broadleaved woodlands outsequester non-native conifer plantations, which are limited by regular timber harvesting.

Peatland restoration offers the greatest mitigation per unit area, whilst the contribution from saltmarsh creation is limited by the small areas involved. Overall, the contribution of these NbS to the United Kingdom’s net zero emissions target is relatively modest. Even with the most ambitious targets considered here, by 2100, the total cumulative mitigation from the three NbS is equivalent to only 3 years' worth of UK emissions at current levels.

Policy implications. Major deployment of nature-based solutions (NbS) is possible in the United Kingdom but reaching ‘net zero’ primarily requires substantial and sustained reductions in fossil fuel use. However, facilitating these NbS at the national scale could offer many additional benefits for people and biodiversity. This demands that policy-makers commit to a UK-wide strategic approach that prioritises the ‘nature’ aspect of NbS. In the push to reach ‘net zero’, climate change mitigation should not be used to justify land management practices that threaten biodiversity ambitions.

Date
06 September 2021
RSPB Authors
Dr Tom Finch, Dr Richard Bradbury, Dr Graeme Buchanan, Dr Rob Field
Authors
Bradfer‐Lawrence, Tom Finch, Tom Bradbury, Richard B Buchanan, Graeme M Midgley, Andrew Field, Rob H
Published in
Journal of Applied Ecology
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Proactive conservation to prevent habitat losses to agricultural expansion

The projected loss of millions of square kilometres of natural ecosystems to meet future demand for food, animal feed, fibre and bioenergy crops is likely to massively escalate threats to biodiversity. Reducing these threats requires a detailed knowledge of how and where they are likely to be most severe. We developed a geographically explicit model of future agricultural land clearance based on observed historical changes, and combined the outputs with species-specific habitat preferences for 19,859 species of terrestrial vertebrates. We project that 87.7% of these species will lose habitat to agricultural expansion by 2050, with 1,280 species projected to lose ≥25% of their habitat. Proactive policies targeting how, where, and what food is produced could reduce these threats, with a combination of approaches potentially preventing almost all these losses while contributing to healthier human diets. As international biodiversity targets are set to be updated in 2021, these results highlight the importance of proactive efforts to safeguard biodiversity by reducing demand for agricultural land.

Date
01 January 2021
RSPB Authors
Dr Graeme Buchanan
Authors
Williams, David R Clark, Michael Buchanan, Graeme M Ficetola, G Francesco Rondinini, Carlo Tilman, David
Published in
Nature sustainability
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Global priority areas for ecosystem restoration

Extensive ecosystem restoration is increasingly seen as being central to conserving biodiversity1 and stabilizing the climate of the Earth2. Although ambitious national and global targets have been set, global priority areas that account for spatial variation in benefits and costs have yet to be identified. Here we develop and apply a multicriteria optimization approach that identifies priority areas for restoration across all terrestrial biomes, and estimates their benefits and costs. We find that restoring 15% of converted lands in priority areas could avoid 60% of expected extinctions while sequestering 299 gigatonnes of CO2—30% of the total CO2 increase in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution. The inclusion of several biomes is key to achieving multiple benefits. Cost effectiveness can increase up to 13-fold when spatial allocation is optimized using our multicriteria approach, which highlights the importance of spatial planning. Our results confirm the vast potential contributions of restoration to addressing global challenges, while underscoring the necessity of pursuing these goals synergistically.

Date
14 October 2020
RSPB Authors
Dr Graeme Buchanan
Authors
Strassburg, Bernardo BN Iribarrem, Alvaro Beyer, Hawthorne L Cordeiro, Carlos Leandro Crouzeilles, Renato Jakovac, Catarina C Braga Junqueira, André Lacerda, Eduardo Latawiec, Agnieszka E Balmford, Andrew Brooks, Thomas M Butchart, Stuart H. M. Chazdon, Robin L. Erb, Karl-Heinz Brancalion, Pedro Buchanan, Graeme Cooper, David Díaz, Sandra Donald, Paul F Kapos, Valerie Leclère, David Miles, Lera Obersteiner, Michael Plutzar, Christoph Scaramuzza, Carlos Alberto de M Scarano, Fabio R Visconti, Piero
Published in
Nature
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