Land2013, 2(4), 756-773; doi:10.3390/land2040756 - published online 6 December 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Mapping large areas for planning and conservation is a challenge undergoing rapid transformation. For centuries, the creation of broad-extent maps was the near-exclusive domain of expert specialist cartographers, who painstakingly delineated regions of relative homogeneity with respect to a given set of criteria. In the satellite era, it has become possible to rapidly create and update categorizations of Earth’s surface with improved speed and flexibility. Land cover datasets and landscape metrics offer a vast set of information for viewing and quantifying land cover across large areas. Comprehending the patterns revealed by hundreds of possibly relevant landscape metric values, however, remains a daunting task. We studied the information content of a large set of landscape pattern metrics across Quebec, Canada, asking whether they were capable of making consistent, spatially cohesive distinctions among patterns in landscapes. We evaluated the possibility of metrics to identify representative landscapes for efficient sampling or conservation, and determined areas where differences in nearby landscape patterns were the most and least pronounced. This approach can serve as a template for a landscape perspective on the challenges that will be faced in the near future by planners and conservationists working across large areas.
Land2013, 2(4), 726-755; doi:10.3390/land2040726 - published online 2 December 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Livestock production is a key income source in eastern Africa, and 80% of the total agricultural land is used for livestock herding. Hence, ecological and socio-economically sustainable rangeland management is crucial. Our study aimed at selecting operational economic, environmental and social sustainability indicators for three main pastoral (P), agro-pastoral (AP), and landless intensive (LI) small scale livestock production systems for use in sustainability assessment in Ethiopia. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected through grey literature and semi-structured interviews, assessing livestock and feed resources, production technology, land tenure, financial and gender issues. Our results suggested that feed shortages (FS) are directly related to grazing pressure (G) and inversely related to grass recovery rates (R).According to our indicators, AP was the most sustainable while P and LI were only conditionally sustainable production systems. 93% of 82 interviewees claimed that private land ownership was the best land tenure incentive for efficient rangeland management. Farmers perceived Prosopis juliflora expansion, sporadic rainfall, and disease infestation as the most significant causes for decreasing livestock productivity. Landless intensive farmers had the highest equality in income distribution (Gini Index: GI = 0.4), followed by P and AP (each with a GI = 0.5). Neither educational background nor income seemed to determine grazing species conservation efforts. We claimed that sustainability indicators are valuable tools to highlight shortcomings and strengths of the three main livestock production systems and help with future livestock management in Ethiopia. Selecting suitable indicators, however, is crucial as data requirements and availability can vary across livestock systems.
Land2013, 2(4), 705-725; doi:10.3390/land2040705 - published online 2 December 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Multipurpose mosaic (“ecoagriculture”) landscapes can serve the purpose of land sharing to combine objectives of agricultural production and biodiversity conservation. Rewarding the people who shape and maintain those landscapes could act as a mechanism to generate added-value representing an indirect payment for ecosystem services. We investigated the feasibility of such an approach in two areas in Southern Africa differing in spatial configurations, history and socio-economic context. We designed and tested a composite index describing the state of each landscape in terms of ecoagriculture criteria (conservation, production, institutions and livelihood) and ecosystem services (provisioning, regulating and cultural services). The resulting index is made up of different sets of data each comprising 40 scores, obtained from stakeholders’ participatory interviews. Ecosystem services are in general assigned more importance than ecoagriculture criteria. In both cases, cultural services receive the highest scores, whereas the lowest ones are attributed to the livelihood and institutions in the Zimbabwean and South African sites, respectively. Index values reveal that the South African site, where there is more integration between land-use units, does better in terms of a landscape performing multiple functions. Provided relevant stakeholders are involved and a certification mechanism is developed, the landscape labelling index can be used to recognize and reward the value of outstanding rural landscapes.
Land2013, 2(4), 678-704; doi:10.3390/land2040678 - published online 22 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Under Vietnam’s State land ownership regime, the Government holds supreme authority over compulsory land acquisition. The results show that many improvements in land acquisition policies have been made, but poor implementation measures largely cannot prevent or even mitigate the adverse impacts on displaced persons. In particular, ineffective compensation measures and a lack of production land and livelihood alternatives accelerate the resistance of communities displaced as a result of hydropower development. The close alliance between the local government and the investor, which is considered as an “interest group”, is the main factor that leads to the ignorance of benefits of displaced people within the compulsory land acquisition process.
Land2013, 2(4), 656-677; doi:10.3390/land2040656 - published online 21 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Many amenity-rich regions are experiencing rapid land-use change through low-density residential development or exurbanization. Those same natural-resource amenities that attracted migration are often degraded by housing growth and associated development. This study examines the impacts of exurbanization on three ecosystem indicators (fire hazard, water availability, and generalized distance effects of houses and roads) and compares them to areas with rural and suburban housing densities in the Sonoita Plain, southeastern Arizona. We found that although they support significantly lower population densities, exurban areas have impacts on ecosystem function comparable to suburban areas. Exurban areas had the highest potential for fire, suggesting that it is the presence of people rather than the density that increases fire hazard. The increase in the number of wells in exurban areas far exceeded suburban areas and matched increases for agricultural use in rural areas. When the impacts of houses and roads on ecosystem function were considered, 98% of exurban areas were “highly” or “very highly” impacted, compared to 100% for suburban areas and 35% for rural areas. Since development in the area is not readily visible, assessing the spatial extent of impacts is important for understanding the vulnerability of systems and guiding decisions about development.
Land2013, 2(4), 637-655; doi:10.3390/land2040637 - published online 20 November 2013 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: This research examines the integration and potential uses of linkages between climate dynamics, savanna vegetation and landscape level processes within a highly vulnerable region, both in terms of climate variability and social systems. We explore the combined applications of two time-series methodologies: (1) climate signals detected in tree ring growth, from published literature, chronologies from the International Tree-Ring Data Bank, and minimal preliminary field data; and (2) new primary production (NPP) data of vegetation cover over time derived from remotely sensed analyses. Both time-series are related to the regional patterns of precipitation, the principle driver of plant growth in the area. The approach is temporally and spatially multiscalar and examines the relationships between vegetation cover, type and amount, and precipitation shifts. We review literature linking dendrochronology, climate, and remotely sensed imagery, and, in addition, provide unique preliminary analyses from a dry study site located on the outer limit of the Okavango Delta. The work demonstrates integration across the different data sources, to provide a more holistic view of landscape level processes occurring in the last 30-50 years. These results corroborate the water-limited nature of the region and the dominance of precipitation in controlling vegetation growth. We present this integrative analysis of vegetation and climate change, as a prospective approach to facilitate the development of long-term climate/vegetation change records across multiple scales.