Open AccessReview
Characterizing Islandscapes: Conceptual and Methodological Challenges Exemplified in the Mediterranean
Land 2017, 6(1), 14; doi:10.3390/land6010014 -
Abstract
Islands across the world have evolved at the interface between land and sea, thus comprising landscapes and seascapes. Many islands have also been influenced by anthropogenic factors, which have given rise to mosaics of anthromes (sensu Ellis and Ramankutty). These elements of
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Islands across the world have evolved at the interface between land and sea, thus comprising landscapes and seascapes. Many islands have also been influenced by anthropogenic factors, which have given rise to mosaics of anthromes (sensu Ellis and Ramankutty). These elements of landscapes, seascapes, and cultural impacts in varied proportions, generate unique environments which merit a unique term: islandscapes. The use of the term islandscape is advocated as the only term which encompasses all of the constituent components of an island, in a holistic manner. The aim of the paper is to evaluate the applicability of existing landscape and seascape character assessment methodologies in an island context, and to propose a methodological framework for mapping the space which defines the term ‘islandscape’. The challenges and opportunities stemming from the use of the term are exemplified with reference to the Mediterranean islands. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Toward a Global Classification of Coastal Anthromes
Land 2017, 6(1), 13; doi:10.3390/land6010013 -
Abstract
Given incontrovertible evidence that humans are the most powerful agents of environmental change on the planet, research has begun to acknowledge and integrate human presence and activity into updated descriptions of the world’s biomes as “anthromes”. Thus far, a classification system for anthromes
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Given incontrovertible evidence that humans are the most powerful agents of environmental change on the planet, research has begun to acknowledge and integrate human presence and activity into updated descriptions of the world’s biomes as “anthromes”. Thus far, a classification system for anthromes is limited to the terrestrial biosphere. Here, I present a case for the consideration and validity of coastal anthromes. Every coastal environment on Earth is subject to direct and indirect human modification and disturbance. Despite the legacy, ubiquity, and pervasiveness of human interactions with coastal ecosystems, coastal anthromes still lack formal definition. Following the original argument and framework for terrestrial anthromes, I outline a set of coastal anthrome classifications that dovetail with terrestrial and marine counterparts. Recognising coastal environments as complex and increasingly vulnerable anthropogenic systems is a fundamental step toward understanding their modern dynamics—and, by extension, realising opportunities for and limits to their resilience. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Estate Crops More Attractive than Community Forests in West Kalimantan, Indonesia
Land 2017, 6(1), 12; doi:10.3390/land6010012 -
Abstract
Smallholder farmers and indigenous communities must cope with the opportunities and threats presented by rapidly spreading estate crops in the frontier of the agricultural market economy. Smallholder communities are subject to considerable speculation by outsiders, yet large-scale agriculture presents tradeoffs that they must
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Smallholder farmers and indigenous communities must cope with the opportunities and threats presented by rapidly spreading estate crops in the frontier of the agricultural market economy. Smallholder communities are subject to considerable speculation by outsiders, yet large-scale agriculture presents tradeoffs that they must navigate. We initiated a study in Sintang, West Kalimantan in 2012 and have returned annually for the last four years, building the baselines for a longer-term landscape approach to reconciling conservation and development tradeoffs in situ. Here, the stakeholders are heterogeneous, yet the land cover of the landscape is on a trajectory towards homogenous mono-cropping systems, primarily either palm oil or rubber. In one village on the frontier of the agricultural market economy, natural forests remain managed by the indigenous and local community but economics further intrude on forest use decisions. Conservation values are declining and the future of the forest is uncertain. As such, the community is ultimately attracted to more economically attractive uses of the land for local development oil palm or rubber mono-crop farms. We identify poverty as a threat to community-managed conservation success in the face of economic pressures to convert forest to intensive agriculture. We provide evidence that lucrative alternatives will challenge community-managed forests when prosperity seems achievable. To alleviate this trend, we identify formalized traditional management and landscape governance solutions to nurture a more sustainable landscape transition. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Late Neolithic Agriculture in Temperate Europe—A Long-Term Experimental Approach
Land 2017, 6(1), 11; doi:10.3390/land6010011 -
Abstract
Long-term slash-and-burn experiments, when compared with intensive tillage without manuring, resulted in a huge data set relating to potential crop yields, depending on soil quality, crop type, and agricultural measures. Cultivation without manuring or fallow phases did not produce satisfying yields, and mono-season
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Long-term slash-and-burn experiments, when compared with intensive tillage without manuring, resulted in a huge data set relating to potential crop yields, depending on soil quality, crop type, and agricultural measures. Cultivation without manuring or fallow phases did not produce satisfying yields, and mono-season cropping on freshly cleared and burned plots resulted in rather high yields, comparable to those produced during modern industrial agriculture - at least ten-fold the ones estimated for the medieval period. Continuous cultivation on the same plot, using imported wood from adjacent areas as fuel, causes decreasing yields over several years. The high yield of the first harvest of a slash-and-burn agriculture is caused by nutrient input through the ash produced and mobilization from the organic matter of the topsoil, due to high soil temperatures during the burning process and higher topsoil temperatures due to the soil’s black surface. The harvested crops are pure, without contamination of any weeds. Considering the amount of work required to fight weeds without burning, the slash-and-burn technique yields much better results than any other tested agricultural approach. Therefore, in dense woodland, without optimal soils and climate, slash-and-burn agriculture seems to be the best, if not the only, feasible method to start agriculture, for example, during the Late Neolithic, when agriculture expanded from the loess belt into landscapes less suitable for agriculture. Extensive and cultivation with manuring is more practical in an already-open landscape and with a denser population, but its efficiency in terms of the ratio of the manpower input to food output, is worse. Slash-and-burn agriculture is not only a phenomenon of temperate European agriculture during the Neolithic, but played a major role in land-use in forested regions worldwide, creating anthromes on a huge spatial scale. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Fire and the Distribution and Uncertainty of Carbon Sequestered as Aboveground Tree Biomass in Yosemite and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks
Land 2017, 6(1), 10; doi:10.3390/land6010010 -
Abstract
Fire is one of the principal agents changing forest carbon stocks and landscape level distributions of carbon, but few studies have addressed how accurate carbon accounting of fire-killed trees is or can be. We used a large number of forested plots (1646), detailed
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Fire is one of the principal agents changing forest carbon stocks and landscape level distributions of carbon, but few studies have addressed how accurate carbon accounting of fire-killed trees is or can be. We used a large number of forested plots (1646), detailed selection of species-specific and location-specific allometric equations, vegetation type maps with high levels of accuracy, and Monte Carlo simulation to model the amount and uncertainty of aboveground tree carbon present in tree species (hereafter, carbon) within Yosemite and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. We estimated aboveground carbon in trees within Yosemite National Park to be 25 Tg of carbon (C) (confidence interval (CI): 23–27 Tg C), and in Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park to be 20 Tg C (CI: 18–21 Tg C). Low-severity and moderate-severity fire had little or no effect on the amount of carbon sequestered in trees at the landscape scale, and high-severity fire did not immediately consume much carbon. Although many of our data inputs were more accurate than those used in similar studies in other locations, the total uncertainty of carbon estimates was still greater than ±10%, mostly due to potential uncertainties in landscape-scale vegetation type mismatches and trees larger than the ranges of existing allometric equations. If carbon inventories are to be meaningfully used in policy, there is an urgent need for more accurate landscape classification methods, improvement in allometric equations for tree species, and better understanding of the uncertainties inherent in existing carbon accounting methods. Full article
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Open AccessLetter
Urban Growth Dynamics in Perth, Western Australia: Using Applied Remote Sensing for Sustainable Future Planning
Land 2017, 6(1), 9; doi:10.3390/land6010009 -
Abstract
Earth observation data can provide valuable assessments for monitoring the spatial extent of (un)sustainable urban growth of the world’s cities to better inform planning policy in reducing associated economic, social and environmental costs. Western Australia has witnessed rapid economic expansion since the turn
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Earth observation data can provide valuable assessments for monitoring the spatial extent of (un)sustainable urban growth of the world’s cities to better inform planning policy in reducing associated economic, social and environmental costs. Western Australia has witnessed rapid economic expansion since the turn of the century founded upon extensive natural resource extraction. Thus, Perth, the state capital of Western Australia, has encountered significant population and urban growth in response to the booming state economy. However, the recent economic slowdown resulted in the largest decrease in natural resource values that Western Australia has ever experienced. Here, we present multi-temporal urban expansion statistics from 1990 to 2015 for Perth, derived from Landsat imagery. Current urban estimates used for future development plans and progress monitoring of infill and density targets are based upon aggregated census data and metrics unrepresentative of actual land cover change, underestimating overall urban area. Earth observation provides a temporally consistent methodology, identifying areal urban area at higher spatial and temporal resolution than current estimates. Our results indicate that the spatial extent of the Perth Metropolitan Region has increased 45% between 1990 and 2015, over 320 km2. We highlight the applicability of earth observation data in accurately quantifying urban area for sustainable targeted planning practices. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Habitat Loss on Rondon’s Marmoset Potential Distribution
Land 2017, 6(1), 8; doi:10.3390/land6010008 -
Abstract
The Amazon basin is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. However, agricultural expansion and infrastructure development have led to widespread deforestation that threatens the survival of many taxa. Conservation strategies to contest these threats include protected areas and environmental legislation.
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The Amazon basin is one of the most biologically diverse places on earth. However, agricultural expansion and infrastructure development have led to widespread deforestation that threatens the survival of many taxa. Conservation strategies to contest these threats include protected areas and environmental legislation. Nevertheless, the basic biology of many taxa is largely unknown, which poses an immense challenge when devising effective strategies to safeguard such species in the long-term. This is particularly true for primates. Monkeys from the genus Mico are poorly studied with half of the currently known species being described after 1976, and their distribution and threats remain poorly understood. Using the model Maxent, we re-evaluated the distribution range for Rondon’s marmoset, one of the most threatened species in this genus. Our results estimated a distribution that is 15,500 km2 smaller than previously described for this species (68,649 km2). Furthermore, much of its modeled distribution (71%) lies outside of protected areas. Agriculture expansion and infrastructure development have converted/destroyed 20,532 km2 of forest within its range (38%) mainly in areas without protection. Another 10,316 km2 of forest is projected to be cleared by 2040 under current deforestation patterns. The expected cumulative loss of over 50% of its range size in the coming 15 years raise awareness about the threaten category of this species. In the absence of new protected areas, it remains to be seen whether Rondon’s marmoset can be effectively conserved in remaining fragments of forest in farmlands. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Politics of Land Use in the Korup National Park
Land 2017, 6(1), 7; doi:10.3390/land6010007 -
Abstract
Recently, the call to combine land change science (LCS) and political ecology (PE) in the study of human-environment interactions has been widely discussed by scientists from both subfields of geography. In this paper, we use a hybrid ecology framework to examine the effects
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Recently, the call to combine land change science (LCS) and political ecology (PE) in the study of human-environment interactions has been widely discussed by scientists from both subfields of geography. In this paper, we use a hybrid ecology framework to examine the effects of conservation policies on the environment and the livelihood of the people of the Korup National Park (KNP). Using techniques in both PE and LCS, our results show that conservation policies, politics, and population are the primary drivers of environmental change in the KNP. We conclude by arguing that a deeper understanding can be garnered by combining LCS and PE approaches to analyze and contribute to the people and parks debate. Full article
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Open AccessReview
Will Biodiversity Be Conserved in Locally-Managed Forests?
Land 2017, 6(1), 6; doi:10.3390/land6010006 -
Abstract
Recent decades have seen a rapid movement towards decentralising forest rights and tenure to local communities and indigenous groups in both developing and developed nations. Attribution of local and community rights to forests appears to be gathering increasing momentum in many tropical developing
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Recent decades have seen a rapid movement towards decentralising forest rights and tenure to local communities and indigenous groups in both developing and developed nations. Attribution of local and community rights to forests appears to be gathering increasing momentum in many tropical developing countries. Greater local control of forest resources is a response to the failure of government agencies to exercise adequate stewardship over forests and to ensure that the values of all stakeholders are adequately protected. We reviewed evidence of the impact of decentralised forest management on the biodiversity values of forests and conclude that special measures are needed to protect these values. There are trade-offs between shorter-term local needs for forest lands and products and longer-term global needs for biodiversity and other environmental values. We present evidence of local forest management leading to declining forest integrity with negative impacts on both local forest users and the global environment. We advocate greater attention to measures to ensure protection of biodiversity in locally-managed forests. Full article
Open AccessEditorial
Acknowledgement to Reviewers of Land in 2016
Land 2017, 6(1), 5; doi:10.3390/land6010005 -
Abstract The editors of Land would like to express their sincere gratitude to the following reviewers for assessing manuscripts in 2016.[...] Full article
Open AccessArticle
Analysis of Vegetation Phytosociological Characteristics and Soil Physico-Chemical Conditions in Harishin Rangelands of Eastern Ethiopia
Land 2017, 6(1), 4; doi:10.3390/land6010004 -
Abstract
The objective of this study is to analyse the phytodiversity, distribution, herb biomass and physico-chemical conditions of the vegetation system in the context of communal continuous open grazing and enclosed grazing management practices in the Harishin rangelands of Eastern Ethiopia. A total of
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The objective of this study is to analyse the phytodiversity, distribution, herb biomass and physico-chemical conditions of the vegetation system in the context of communal continuous open grazing and enclosed grazing management practices in the Harishin rangelands of Eastern Ethiopia. A total of 58 herbaceous species and 11 woody species were recorded in the study area. Analysis of Importance Value Index for two management practices was represented by different combinations of species with varied dominance. The herbs’ diversity–dominance curve revealed a lognormal distribution in both managements practices. The overview of distribution patterns for most of the species layer showed contiguous growth and a clumped distribution pattern. Species diversity, richness, herb biomass, basal cover and soil physico-chemical attributes showed a distinct separation in relation to grazing management practices. Based on the findings, one can conclude that the establishment of enclosures has a positive impact in restoring rangeland vegetation diversity, distribution, in increasing herb productivity and in boosting soil fertility. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Hydrological Response to ~30 years of Agricultural Surface Water Management
Land 2017, 6(1), 3; doi:10.3390/land6010003 -
Abstract
Amongst human practices, agricultural surface-water management systems represent some of the largest integrated engineering works that shaped floodplains during history, directly or indirectly affecting the landscape. As a result of changes in agricultural practices and land use, many drainage networks have changed producing
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Amongst human practices, agricultural surface-water management systems represent some of the largest integrated engineering works that shaped floodplains during history, directly or indirectly affecting the landscape. As a result of changes in agricultural practices and land use, many drainage networks have changed producing a greater exposure to flooding with a broad range of impacts on society, also because of climate inputs coupling with the human drivers. This research focuses on three main questions: which kind of land use changes related to the agricultural practices have been observed in the most recent years (~30 years)? How does the influence on the watershed response to land use and land cover changes depend on the rainfall event characteristics and soil conditions, and what is their related significance? The investigation presented in this work includes modelling the water infiltration due to the soil properties and analysing the distributed water storage offered by the agricultural drainage system in a study area in Veneto (north-eastern Italy). The results show that economic changes control the development of agro-industrial landscapes, with effects on the hydrological response. Key elements that can enhance or reduce differences are the antecedent soil conditions and the climate characteristics. Criticalities should be expected for intense and irregular rainfall events, and for events that recurrently happen. Agricultural areas might be perceived to be of low priority when it comes to public funding of flood protection, compared to the priority given to urban ones. These outcomes highlight the importance of understanding how agricultural practices can be the driver of or can be used to avoid, or at least mitigate, flooding. The proposed methods can be valuable tools in evaluating the costs and benefits of the management of water in agriculture to inform better policy decision-making. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Conservation Benefits of Tropical Multifunctional Land-Uses in and Around a Forest Protected Area of Bangladesh
Land 2017, 6(1), 2; doi:10.3390/land6010002 -
Abstract
Competing interests in land for agriculture and commodity production in tropical human-dominated landscapes make forests and biodiversity conservation particularly challenging. Establishment of protected areas in this regard is not functioning as expected due to exclusive ecological focus and poor recognition of local people’s
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Competing interests in land for agriculture and commodity production in tropical human-dominated landscapes make forests and biodiversity conservation particularly challenging. Establishment of protected areas in this regard is not functioning as expected due to exclusive ecological focus and poor recognition of local people’s traditional forest use and dependence. In recent years, multifunctional land-use systems such as agroforestry have widely been promoted as an efficient land-use in such circumstances, although their conservation effectiveness remains poorly investigated. We undertake a rapid biodiversity survey to understand the conservation value of four contrasting forms of local land-use, namely: betel leaf (Piper betle) agroforestry; lemon (Citrus limon) agroforestry; pineapple (Ananas comosus) agroforestry; and, shifting cultivation–fallow managed largely by the indigenous communities in and around a highly diverse forest protected area of Bangladesh. We measure the alpha and beta diversity of plants, birds, and mammals in these multifunctional land-uses, as well as in the old-growth secondary forest in the area. Our study finds local land-use critical in conserving biodiversity in the area, with comparable biodiversity benefits as those of the old-growth secondary forest. In Bangladesh, where population pressure and rural people’s dependence on forests are common, multifunctional land-uses in areas of high conservation priority could potentially be used to bridge the gap between conservation and commodity production, ensuring that the ecological integrity of such landscapes will be altered as little as possible. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Unexpected Interactions between Agricultural and Forest Sectors through International Trade: Wood Pallets and Agricultural Exports in Costa Rica
Land 2017, 6(1), 1; doi:10.3390/land6010001 -
Abstract
International market forces have played an increasingly important role in shaping land use dynamics through complex supply chains. In Costa Rica, the shift from a net loss to a net gain in forest cover was facilitated by forest plantations and the replacement of
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International market forces have played an increasingly important role in shaping land use dynamics through complex supply chains. In Costa Rica, the shift from a net loss to a net gain in forest cover was facilitated by forest plantations and the replacement of extensive cropland and pastures by export-oriented, high-yielding crops. However, agricultural intensification generated several feedbacks affecting forests. We analyzed the interactions between Costa Rica’s agricultural and forestry sectors associated with the use of wood pallets for commodity exports over 1985–2013. Wood pallets for growing agricultural exports created a demand for domestic tree plantations. The annual land demand for tree plantations to produce these wood pallets increased by 669%, reaching 17,606 ha in 2013 and representing 28% of the increase in demand for cropland for agricultural exports over 1994–2013. Wood supplied from plantations failed to fully substitute for wood from natural forests, only allowing for a relative substitution and preventing a major sparing of these forests. The dominant use of wood from plantations for production of low-value pallets de-incentivized investments in sustainable plantations. We showed that, beyond the typical interactions between agriculture and forestry through direct competition for land, international trade generated unexpected feedback where agricultural activities and supply chains affected forestry by triggering new demand and profound changes in forestry management. Land systems behave as complex systems, calling for integrated approaches to study the outcomes of forest conservation, reforestation programs, and development of land-based businesses. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Greenhouse Gas Implications of Peri-Urban Land Use Change in a Developed City under Four Future Climate Scenarios
Land 2016, 5(4), 46; doi:10.3390/land5040046 -
Abstract
Present decisions about urbanization of peri-urban (PU) areas may contribute to the capacity of cities to mitigate future climate change. Comprehensive mitigative responses to PU development should require integration of urban form and food production to realise potential trade-offs. Despite this, few studies
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Present decisions about urbanization of peri-urban (PU) areas may contribute to the capacity of cities to mitigate future climate change. Comprehensive mitigative responses to PU development should require integration of urban form and food production to realise potential trade-offs. Despite this, few studies examine greenhouse gas (GHG) implications of future urban development combined with impacts on PU food production. In this paper, four future scenarios, at 2050 and 2100 time horizons, were developed to evaluate the potential GHG emissions implications of feeding and housing a growing urban population in Sydney, Australia. The scenarios were thematically downscaled from the four relative concentration pathways. Central to the scenarios were differences in population, technology, energy, housing form, transportation, temperature, food production and land use change (LUC). A life cycle assessment approach was used within the scenarios to evaluate differences in GHG impacts. Differences in GHG emissions between scenarios at the 2100 time horizon, per area of PU land transformed, approximated 0.7 Mt CO2-e per year. Per additional resident this equated to 0.7 to 6.1 t CO2-e per year. Indirect LUC has the potential to be significant. Interventions such as carbon capture and storage technology, renewables and urban form markedly reduced emissions. However, incorporating cross-sectoral energy saving measures within urban planning at the regional scale requires a paradigmatic shift. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Large-Scale Mapping of Tree-Community Composition as a Surrogate of Forest Degradation in Bornean Tropical Rain Forests
Land 2016, 5(4), 45; doi:10.3390/land5040045 -
Abstract
Assessment of the progress of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the safeguarding of ecosystems from the perverse negative impacts caused by Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) requires the development of spatiotemporally
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Assessment of the progress of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets set by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the safeguarding of ecosystems from the perverse negative impacts caused by Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation Plus (REDD+) requires the development of spatiotemporally robust and sensitive indicators of biodiversity and ecosystem health. Recently, it has been proposed that tree-community composition based on count-plot surveys could serve as a robust, sensitive, and cost-effective indicator for forest intactness in Bornean logged-over rain forests. In this study, we developed an algorithm to map tree-community composition across the entire landscape based on Landsat imagery. We targeted six forest management units (FMUs), each of which ranged from 50,000 to 100,000 ha in area, covering a broad geographic range spanning the most area of Borneo. Approximately fifty 20 m-radius circular plots were established in each FMU, and the differences in tree-community composition at a genus level among plots were examined for trees with diameter at breast height ≥10 cm using an ordination with non-metric multidimensional scaling (nMDS). Subsequently, we developed a linear regression model based on Landsat metrics (e.g., reflectance value, vegetation indices and textures) to explain the nMDS axis-1 scores of the plots, and extrapolated the model to the landscape to establish a tree-community composition map in each FMU. The adjusted R2 values based on a cross-validation approach between the predicted and observed nMDS axis-1 scores indicated a close correlation, ranging from 0.54 to 0.69. Histograms of the frequency distributions of extrapolated nMDS axis-1 scores were derived from each map and used to quantitatively diagnose the forest intactness of the FMUs. Our study indicated that tree-community composition, which was reported as a robust indicator of forest intactness, could be mapped at a landscape level to quantitatively assess the spatial patterns of intactness in Bornean rain forests. Our approach can be used for large-scale assessments of tree diversity and forest intactness to monitor both the progress of Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the effectiveness of REDD+ biodiversity safeguards in production forests in the tropics. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Integration of ALOS PALSAR and Landsat Data for Land Cover and Forest Mapping in Northern Tanzania
Land 2016, 5(4), 43; doi:10.3390/land5040043 -
Abstract
Land cover and forest mapping supports decision makers in the course of making informed decisions for implementation of sustainable conservation and management plans of the forest resources and environmental monitoring. This research examines the value of integrating of ALOS PALSAR and Landsat data
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Land cover and forest mapping supports decision makers in the course of making informed decisions for implementation of sustainable conservation and management plans of the forest resources and environmental monitoring. This research examines the value of integrating of ALOS PALSAR and Landsat data for improved forest and land cover mapping in Northern Tanzania. A separate and joint processing of surface reflectance, backscattering and derivatives (i.e., Normalized Different Vegetation Index (NDVI), Principal Component Analysis (PCA), Radar Forest Deforestation Index (RFDI), quotient bands, polarimetric features and Grey Level Co-Occurrence Matrix (GLCM) textures) were executed using Support Vector Machine (SVM) classifier. The classification accuracy was assessed using a confusion matrix, where Overall classification Accuracy (OA), Kappa Coefficient (KC), Producer’s Accuracy (PA), User’s Accuracy (UA) and F1 score index were computed. A two sample t-statistics was utilized to evaluate the influence of different data categories on the classification accuracy. Landsat surface reflectance and derivatives show an overall classification accuracy (OA = 86%). ALOS PALSAR backscattering could not differentiate the land cover classes efficiently (OA = 59%). However, combination of backscattering, and derivatives could differentiate the land cover classes properly (OA = 71%). The attained results suggest that integration of backscattering and derivative has potential of utilization for mapping of land cover in tropical environment. Integration of backscattering, surface reflectance and their derivative increase the accuracy (OA = 97%). Therefore it can be concluded that integration of ALOS PALSAR and optical data improve the accuracies of land cover and forest mapping and hence suitable for environmental monitoring. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Prediction of Land Use Change in Long Island Sound Watersheds Using Nighttime Light Data
Land 2016, 5(4), 44; doi:10.3390/land5040044 -
Abstract
The Long Island Sound Watersheds (LISW) are experiencing significant land use/cover change (LUCC), which affects the environment and ecosystems in the watersheds through water pollution, carbon emissions, and loss of wildlife. LUCC modeling is an important approach to understanding what has happened in
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The Long Island Sound Watersheds (LISW) are experiencing significant land use/cover change (LUCC), which affects the environment and ecosystems in the watersheds through water pollution, carbon emissions, and loss of wildlife. LUCC modeling is an important approach to understanding what has happened in the landscape and what may change in the future. Moreover, prospective modeling can provide sustainable and efficient decision support for land planning and environmental management. This paper modeled the LUCCs between 1996, 2001 and 2006 in the LISW in the New England region, which experienced an increase in developed area and a decrease of forest. The low-density development pattern played an important role in the loss of forest and the expansion of urban areas. The key driving forces were distance to developed areas, distance to roads, and social-economic drivers, such as nighttime light intensity and population density. In addition, this paper compared and evaluated two integrated LUCC models—the logistic regression–Markov chain model and the multi-layer perception–Markov chain (MLP–MC) model. Both models achieved high accuracy in prediction, but the MLP–MC model performed slightly better. Finally, a land use map for 2026 was predicted by using the MLP–MC model, and it indicates the continued loss of forest and increase of developed area. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Historical and Current Niche Construction in an Anthropogenic Biome: Old Cultural Landscapes in Southern Scandinavia
Land 2016, 5(4), 42; doi:10.3390/land5040042 -
Abstract
Conceptual advances in niche construction theory provide new perspectives and a tool-box for studies of human-environment interactions mediating what is termed anthropogenic biomes. This theory is useful also for studies on how anthropogenic biomes are perceived and valued. This paper addresses these topics
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Conceptual advances in niche construction theory provide new perspectives and a tool-box for studies of human-environment interactions mediating what is termed anthropogenic biomes. This theory is useful also for studies on how anthropogenic biomes are perceived and valued. This paper addresses these topics using an example: “old cultural landscapes” in Scandinavia, i.e., landscapes formed by a long, dynamic and continuously changing history of management. Today, remnant habitats of this management history, such as wooded pastures and meadows, are the focus of conservation programs, due to their rich biodiversity and cultural and aesthetic values. After a review of historical niche construction processes, the paper examines current niche construction affecting these old cultural landscapes. Features produced by historical niche construction, e.g., landscape composition and species richness, are in the modern society reinterpreted to become values associated with beauty and heritage and species’ intrinsic values. These non-utilitarian motivators now become drivers of new niche construction dynamics, manifested as conservation programs. The paper also examines the possibility to maintain and create new habitats, potentially associated with values emanating from historical landscapes, but in transformed and urbanized landscapes. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Land Use and Land Cover Change in the Bale Mountain Eco-Region of Ethiopia during 1985 to 2015
Land 2016, 5(4), 41; doi:10.3390/land5040041 -
Abstract
Anthropogenic factors are responsible for major land use and land cover changes (LULCC). Bale Mountain Eco-Region in Ethiopia is a biodiversity-rich ecosystem where such LULCC have occurred. The specific objectives of this study were to: (i) determine which LULC types gained or lost
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Anthropogenic factors are responsible for major land use and land cover changes (LULCC). Bale Mountain Eco-Region in Ethiopia is a biodiversity-rich ecosystem where such LULCC have occurred. The specific objectives of this study were to: (i) determine which LULC types gained or lost most as a result of the observed LULCC; (ii) identify the major drivers of the LULCC/deforestation; and (iii) assess the approximate amount of carbon stock removed as a result of deforestation during the study period. Remote sensing and GIS were used to analyze LULCC. Landsat images acquired in 1985, 1995, 2005, and 2015 were used. Additionally, data from the Central Statistics Agency on cropland expansion, and human and livestock population growth were analyzed and correlations were made. The results showed that forest lost 123,751 ha while farmland gained 292,294 ha. Farmland and urban settlement expansion were found to be major drivers of LULCC. Aboveground carbon stock removed from forest and shrubland was more than 24 million tons. In the future, allocation of land to different uses must be based on appropriate land use policies. Integrating biodiversity and ecosystem values for each land cover as per the UN Sustainable Development Goal (UN-SDG) 15.9 may be one of the mechanisms to limit unplanned expansion or invasion of one sector at the expense of another. Full article
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