Land2014, 3(2), 390-413; doi:10.3390/land3020390 - published online 8 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Values associated with scenic beauty are common “pull factors” for amenity migrants, however the specific landscape features that attract amenity migration are poorly understood. In this study we focused on three visual quality metrics of the intermountain West (USA), with the objective of exploring the relationship between the location of exurban homes and aesthetic landscape preference, as exemplified through greenness, viewshed size, and terrain ruggedness. Using viewshed analysis, we compared the viewsheds of actual exurban houses to the viewsheds of randomly-distributed simulated (validation) houses. We found that the actual exurban households can see significantly more vegetation and a more rugged (complex) terrain than simulated houses. Actual exurban homes see a more rugged terrain, but do not necessarily see the highest peaks, suggesting that visual complexity throughout the viewshed may be more important. The viewsheds visible from the actual exurban houses were significantly larger than those visible from the simulated houses, indicating that visual scale is important to the general aesthetic experiences of exurbanites. The differences in visual quality metric values between actual exurban and simulated viewsheds call into question the use of county-level scales of analysis for the study of landscape preferences, which may miss key landscape aesthetic drivers of preference.
Land2014, 3(2), 362-389; doi:10.3390/land3020362 - published online 8 April 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Anthropogenic land use will likely present a greater challenge to biodiversity than climate change this century in the Pacific Northwest, USA. Even if species are equipped with the adaptive capacity to migrate in the face of a changing climate, they will likely encounter a human-dominated landscape as a major dispersal obstacle. Our goal was to identify, at the ecoregion-level, protected areas in close proximity to lands with a higher likelihood of future land-use conversion. Using a state-and-transition simulation model, we modeled spatially explicit (1 km2) land use from 2000 to 2100 under seven alternative land-use and emission scenarios for ecoregions in the Pacific Northwest. We analyzed scenario-based land-use conversion threats from logging, agriculture, and development near existing protected areas. A conversion threat index (CTI) was created to identify ecoregions with highest projected land-use conversion potential within closest proximity to existing protected areas. Our analysis indicated nearly 22% of land area in the Coast Range, over 16% of land area in the Puget Lowland, and nearly 11% of the Cascades had very high CTI values. Broader regional-scale land-use change is projected to impact nearly 40% of the Coast Range, 30% of the Puget Lowland, and 24% of the Cascades (i.e., two highest CTI classes). A landscape level, scenario-based approach to modeling future land use helps identify ecoregions with existing protected areas at greater risk from regional land-use threats and can help prioritize future conservation efforts.
Land2014, 3(1), 351-361; doi:10.3390/land3010351 - published online 24 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Windows in human residential and commercial structures in urban, suburban, and rural landscapes contribute to the deaths of billions of birds worldwide. International treaties, federal, provincial, state, and municipal laws exist to reduce human-associated avian mortality, but are most often not enforced for bird kills resulting from window strikes. As an additive, compared to a compensatory mortality factor, window collisions pose threats to the sustainability and overall population health of common as well as species of special concern. Several solutions to address the window hazard for birds exist, but the most innovative and promising need encouragement and support to market, manufacture, and implement.
Land2014, 3(1), 342-350; doi:10.3390/land3010342 - published online 17 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Cities present significant opportunities for new landscape perspectives that can help inform conservation and development decisions. Early in the twenty-first century, the majority of the planet’s population became urban as more people lived in city-regions for the first time in our history. As the global population increases, so does this urbanization. The environmental challenges of population and urban growth are profound. Landscapes represent a synthesis of natural and cultural processes. Cities are certainly cultural phenomena. Historically, cities provided refuge from nature. The expanding field of urban ecology, coupled with landscape ecology, can enhance how the dual natural and cultural dimensions of landscapes in cities are understood. Furthermore, concepts such as ecosystem services and green infrastructure are proving useful for urban landscape planning and design. Examples from Dayton, Ohio; Brooklyn, New York; and Austin, Texas are presented.
Land2014, 3(1), 322-341; doi:10.3390/land3010322 - published online 14 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: We describe a future land cover scenario construction process developed under consultation with a group of stakeholders from our study area. We developed a simple geographic information system (GIS) method to modify a land cover dataset and then used qualitative data extracted from the stakeholder storyline to modify it. These identified variables related to our study area’s land use regulation system as the major driver in the placement of new urban growth on the landscape; and the accommodation of new population as the determinant of its growth rate. The outcome was a series of three scenario maps depicting a gradient of increased urbanization. The effort attempted to create a simple and transparent modeling framework that is easy to communicate. The incorporation of the regulatory context and rules and place-specific modeling for denser urban and sparse rural areas provide new insights of future land conversions. This relatively rapid mapping process provides useful information for spatial planning and projects for where and how much urban land will be present by the year 2050.
Land2014, 3(1), 300-321; doi:10.3390/land3010300 - published online 13 March 2014 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: A landscape perspective is generally recognized as essential for conservation biology. The main underlying reason is that species respond to features of the landscape at various spatial scales, for example habitat area, connectivity, and matrix habitats. However, there is also an “historical” component of a landscape perspective, which has not received similar attention. The underlying reasons for historical effects are that humans have influenced landscapes during several millennia and that species and communities may respond slowly to land use change. An historical perspective on landscapes also relates to how we perceive “natural” vs. “cultural” landscapes, and thus how conservation actions are motivated and valuated. We review studies from Sweden and the Baltic region in the context of an historical landscape perspective, focusing on semi-natural grasslands, i.e., grasslands formed by long-term human management for grazing and hay-making. Semi-natural grasslands are today a high concern for conservation. Historical effects are ubiquitous on species distributions and patterns of species richness, and have important implications for developing informed conservation programs in semi-natural grasslands, particularly with regard to assumptions of historical baselines, the choice of conservation targets, and insights on time-lags in the response of species to current landscape change.