Open AccessArticle
A Stakeholders’ Analysis of Eastern Mediterranean Landscapes: Contextualities, Commonalities and Concerns
Land 2017, 6(4), 90; doi:10.3390/land6040090 -
Abstract
This study aims at demonstrating and critically assessing high-level landscape stakeholders’ perceptions and understandings of landscape-related issues, threats and problems, in the Eastern Mediterranean, through a purposive comparative research survey of four case studies: Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Lebanon. Employing qualitative data analysis
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This study aims at demonstrating and critically assessing high-level landscape stakeholders’ perceptions and understandings of landscape-related issues, threats and problems, in the Eastern Mediterranean, through a purposive comparative research survey of four case studies: Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Lebanon. Employing qualitative data analysis of intensive stakeholder interviews, performed in the broader context of the MEDSCAPES ENPI-MED project (www.enpi-medscapes.org), the paper draws together the insights and concerns of a total of 61 public entities, private entrepreneurs, academicians and NGO representatives, on landscape knowledge, understanding, management and public awareness, in these four countries. The results point to significant commonalities among them and begin to show relational and synthetic nature of the interrelationship between humans and the landscape, as it developed in the context of the local and regional geographies and histories of this broader region, affected by and involving a series of relevant geophysical, economic, political, social, moral, institutional and other parameters. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Pastoralism and Land Tenure Transformation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Conflicting Policies and Priorities in Ngamiland, Botswana
Land 2017, 6(4), 89; doi:10.3390/land6040089 -
Abstract
In dryland Africa, access to land and water resources are central to pastoral livelihood activities. Policy intervention in these regions represents the outcome of concerted post-independence processes in which countries have committed to land tenure transformation as a policy objective. This was meant
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In dryland Africa, access to land and water resources are central to pastoral livelihood activities. Policy intervention in these regions represents the outcome of concerted post-independence processes in which countries have committed to land tenure transformation as a policy objective. This was meant to create private, liberal property rights to replace communal customary tenure systems which were considered to be a constraint to development. Despite these efforts, decades of scientific research indicate that countries are still struggling to meet environmental sustainability objectives. Land degradation where it existed has not been halted and traditional pastoral livelihoods have been disrupted. The overall evidence base for policymaking remains weak as deficiencies in data or information on which management decisions were based led to poor policy performance. In a bid to strengthen understanding in this area, this study has a dual aim: 1. Using a systematic review of the literature, we examine the impact of land tenure transformation in pastoral areas in sub-Saharan Africa; 2. We analyse user-perspectives on land tenure transformation and pastoralists’ rights in Ngamiland, Botswana, so as to draw out the salient issues that must be addressed in order to reconcile pastoral tenure conflicts and land management in sub-Saharan Africa. Results from meta-analysis and case study show that land tenure transformation policies across pastoral areas are subject to similar challenges and consequences. Protecting pastoral land rights requires deliberate policy interventions that recognise pastoralism as a productive and efficient use of resources. Policymakers need to overcome anti-pastoral prejudice and focus on Sustainable Land Management goals. This entails establishing negotiated and flexible tenure frameworks that strengthen pastoralists’ participation in decision-making arenas by working with pastoral communities on the basis of understanding their livelihood system. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Determining the Frequency of Dry Lake Bed Formation in Semi-Arid Mongolia From Satellite Data
Land 2017, 6(4), 88; doi:10.3390/land6040088 -
Abstract
In the Mongolian Plateau, the desert steppe, mountains, and dry lake bed surfaces may affect the process of dust storm emissions. Among these three surface types, dry lake beds are considered to contribute a substantial amount of global dust emissions and to be
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In the Mongolian Plateau, the desert steppe, mountains, and dry lake bed surfaces may affect the process of dust storm emissions. Among these three surface types, dry lake beds are considered to contribute a substantial amount of global dust emissions and to be responsible for “hot spots” of dust outbreaks. The land cover types in the study area were broadly divided into three types, namely desert steppe, mountains, and dry lake beds, by a classification based on Normalized Difference Water Index (NDWI) calculated from MODIS Terra satellite images, and Digital Elevation Model (DEM). This dry lake beds extracting method using remote sensing offers a new technique for identifying dust hot spots and potential untapped groundwater in the dry lands of the Gobi region. In the study area, frequencies of dry lake bed formation were calculated during the period of 2001 to 2014. The potential dry lake area corresponded well with the length of the river network based on hydrogeological characterization (R2 = 0.77, p < 0.001). We suggest that the threshold between dry lake bed areas and the formation of ephemeral lakes in semi-arid regions is eight days of total precipitation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Grassroots Innovation Using Drones for Indigenous Mapping and Monitoring
Land 2017, 6(4), 86; doi:10.3390/land6040086 -
Abstract
Indigenous territories are facing increasing pressures from numerous legal and illegal activities that are pushing commodity frontiers within their limits, frequently causing severe environmental degradation and threatening indigenous territorial rights and livelihoods. In Central and South America, after nearly three decades of participatory
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Indigenous territories are facing increasing pressures from numerous legal and illegal activities that are pushing commodity frontiers within their limits, frequently causing severe environmental degradation and threatening indigenous territorial rights and livelihoods. In Central and South America, after nearly three decades of participatory mapping projects, interest is mounting among indigenous peoples in the use of new technologies for community mapping and monitoring as a means of defense against such threats. Since 2014, several innovative projects have been developed and implemented in the region to demonstrate and train indigenous communities in the use of small drones for territorial mapping and monitoring. In this paper, we report on five projects carried out in Peru, Guyana, and Panama. For each one we describe the context, main objectives, positive outcomes, challenges faced, and opportunities ahead. Preliminary results are promising and have gained the interest of many indigenous societies who envision this technology as a powerful tool to protect their territories and strengthen their claims regarding specific environmental liabilities and justice issues. Based on the results presented here and a review of previous similar studies, we offer a critical discussion of some of the main opportunities and challenges that we foresee regarding the use of small drones for indigenous territorial mapping and monitoring. In addition, we elaborate on why a careful, well thought-out, and progressive adoption of drones by indigenous peoples may trigger grassroots innovations in ways conducive to greater environmental justice and sustainability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Bequest of the Norseman—The Potential for Agricultural Intensification and Expansion in Southern Greenland under Climate Change
Land 2017, 6(4), 87; doi:10.3390/land6040087 -
Abstract
The increase of summer temperatures and a prolonged growing season increase the potential for agricultural land use for subarctic agriculture. Nevertheless, land use at borderline ecotones is influenced by more factors than temperature and the length of the growing season, for example soil
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The increase of summer temperatures and a prolonged growing season increase the potential for agricultural land use for subarctic agriculture. Nevertheless, land use at borderline ecotones is influenced by more factors than temperature and the length of the growing season, for example soil quality, as the increasing lengths of dry periods during vegetation season can diminish land use potential. Hence, this study focuses on the quality of the soil resource as possible limiting factor for land use intensification in southern Greenland. Physical and chemical soil properties of cultivated grasslands, reference sites and semi-natural birch and grassland sites were examined to develop a soil quality index and to identify the suitability of soils for a sustainable intensification and expansion of the agriculture. The study revealed that soils in the study area are generally characterized by a low effective cation exchange capacity (CECeff) (3.7 ± 5.0 meq 100 g−1), low pH CaCl2 (4.6 ± 0.4) and low clay and silt content (3.0 ± 1.0% and 38.2 ± 4.7%, respectively). Due to the high amount of coarse fraction (59.1 ± 5.8%) and the low amount of soil nutrients, an increasing threat of dry spells for soils and yield could be identified. Further, future land use intensification and expansion bears a high risk for concomitant effects, namely further soil acidification, nutrient leaching and soil degradation processes. However, results of the soil quality index also indicate that sites which were already used by the Norseman (980s–1450) show the best suitability for agricultural use. Thus, these areas offer a possibility to expand agricultural land use in southern Greenland. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Simulating Stakeholder-Based Land-Use Change Scenarios and Their Implication on Above-Ground Carbon and Environmental Management in Northern Thailand
Land 2017, 6(4), 85; doi:10.3390/land6040085 -
Abstract
The objective of this study was to examine whether the coupling of a land-use change (LUC) model with a carbon-stock accounting approach and participatory procedures can be beneficial in a data-limited environment to derive implications for environmental management. Stakeholder-based LUC scenarios referring to
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The objective of this study was to examine whether the coupling of a land-use change (LUC) model with a carbon-stock accounting approach and participatory procedures can be beneficial in a data-limited environment to derive implications for environmental management. Stakeholder-based LUC scenarios referring to different storylines of agricultural intensification and reforestation were simulated to explore their impact on above-ground carbon (AGC) for a period of twenty years (2009–2029). The watershed of Mae Sa Mai, Northern Thailand was used as a case study for this purpose. Coupled model simulations revealed that AGC stocks could be increased by up to 1.7 Gg C through expansion of forests or orchard areas. A loss of up to 0.4 Gg C would occur if vegetable production continue to expand at the expense of orchard and fallow areas. The coupled model approach was useful due to its moderate data demands, enabling the comparison of land-use types differing in AGC build-up rates and rotation times. The scenario analysis depicted clear differences in the occurrence of LUC hotspots, highlighting the importance of assessing the impact of potential future LUC pathways at the landscape level. The use of LUC scenarios based on local stakeholder scenarios offer a higher credibility for climate mitigation strategies but also underline the need to co-design policy frameworks that acknowledge the heterogeneity of stakeholder needs and environmental management frameworks. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing the Sustainability of EU Timber Consumption Trends: Comparing Consumption Scenarios with a Safe Operating Space Scenario for Global and EU Timber Supply
Land 2017, 6(4), 84; doi:10.3390/land6040084 -
Abstract
The growing demand for wood to meet EU renewable energy targets has increasingly come under scrutiny for potentially increasing EU import dependence and inducing land use change abroad, with associated impacts on the climate and biodiversity. This article builds on research accounting for
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The growing demand for wood to meet EU renewable energy targets has increasingly come under scrutiny for potentially increasing EU import dependence and inducing land use change abroad, with associated impacts on the climate and biodiversity. This article builds on research accounting for levels of primary timber consumption—e.g., toward forest footprints—and developing reference values for benchmarking sustainability—e.g., toward land use targets—in order to improve systemic monitoring of timber and forest use. Specifically, it looks at future trends to assess how current EU policy may impact forests at an EU and global scale. Future demand scenarios are based on projections derived and adapted from the literature to depict developments under different scenario assumptions. Results reveal that by 2030, EU consumption levels on a per capita basis are estimated to be increasingly disproportionate compared to the rest of the world. EU consumption scenarios based on meeting around a 40% share of the EU renewable energy targets with timber would overshoot both the EU and global reference value range for sustainable supply capacities in 2030. Overall, findings support literature pointing to an increased risk of problem shifting relating to both how much and where timber needed for meeting renewable energy targets is sourced. It is argued that a sustainable level of timber consumption should be characterized by balance between supply (what the forest can provide on a sustainable basis) and demand (how much is used on a per capita basis, considering the concept of fair shares). To this end, future research should close data gaps, increase methodological robustness and address the socio-political legitimacy of the safe operating space concept towards targets in the future. A re-use of timber within the economy should be supported to increase supply options. Full article
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Open AccessBrief Report
Dust Storms from Degraded Drylands of Asia: Dynamics and Health Impacts
Land 2017, 6(4), 83; doi:10.3390/land6040083 -
Abstract
Asian dust events are massive meteorological phenomena during which dust particles from Chinese and Mongolian deserts are blown into the atmosphere and carried by westerly winds across Northeast Asia. Recently, there has been steady increase in both the frequency and the severity of
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Asian dust events are massive meteorological phenomena during which dust particles from Chinese and Mongolian deserts are blown into the atmosphere and carried by westerly winds across Northeast Asia. Recently, there has been steady increase in both the frequency and the severity of Asian atmospheric dust events. Concern has been expressed regarding the potential health hazards in affected areas. The principal nature of the damage associated with Asian dust events differs between the emission (sandstorm) and downwind (air pollution) regions. In the emission region, the health impacts of dust storms are reflected in the high prevalence of respiratory diseases and severe subjective symptoms. Extreme dust storm events may cause a disaster to happen. In downwind regions such as Japan, analysis of Asian dust particles has shown the presence of ammonium ions, sulfate ions, nitrate ions, and heavy metal compounds that are considered not to originate from soil. Asian dust particles have been thought to adsorb anthropogenic atmospheric pollutants during transport. Therefore, Asian dust events coincide with increases in daily hospital admissions and clinical visits for allergic diseases such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, and conjunctivitis. Although the effect of Asian dust on human health in each region is influenced by a variety of different mechanisms, human activities are partly responsible for such negative effects in many situations. We therefore need to address these environmental problems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Identifying Hot Spots of Critical Forage Supply in Dryland Nomadic Pastoralist Areas: A Case Study for the Afar Region, Ethiopia
Land 2017, 6(4), 82; doi:10.3390/land6040082 -
Abstract
This study develops a methodology to identify hot spots of critical forage supply in nomadic pastoralist areas, using the Afar Region, Ethiopia, as a special case. It addresses two main problems. First, it makes a spatially explicit assessment of fodder supply and demand
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This study develops a methodology to identify hot spots of critical forage supply in nomadic pastoralist areas, using the Afar Region, Ethiopia, as a special case. It addresses two main problems. First, it makes a spatially explicit assessment of fodder supply and demand extracted from a data poor environment. Fodder supply is assessed by combining rainfall-based production functions and rule-based assessment for prevailing land use. Fodder demand is based on a data consistency check of livestock statistics concerning herd size, composition and geographical distribution. Second, individual herd movements have to be evaluated jointly in concurrent migration patterns to assess local pressures on fodder resources. We, therefore, apply a transition model that relates stock levels to seasonal migration routings for all Afar sub-clans jointly so as to localize the hot spots where feed demand exceeds forage supply. Critical areas come to the fore, especially, near fringes of Highlands and in the southern part of the Afar. A sensitivity test shows that ‘Baseline’ scenario is close to the ‘Best’ but under ‘Worst’, the Afar region would fall into despair. We conclude that the model is a useful tool to inform policy makers on critical areas in the Afar region. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
A Conceptual Model for Land System Dynamics as a Coupled Human–Environment System
Land 2017, 6(4), 81; doi:10.3390/land6040081 -
Abstract
This paper presents a conceptual model of land as a coupled human–environment system. Land use and land cover are incorporated as elements of the human and environment system respectively. Drivers and associated processes that influence land use, land cover, and land system dynamics
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This paper presents a conceptual model of land as a coupled human–environment system. Land use and land cover are incorporated as elements of the human and environment system respectively. Drivers and associated processes that influence land use, land cover, and land system dynamics are incorporated within a set of sub-systems. The model includes consideration of driving sub-systems as a set of capital funds and flows, and how these are influenced by linkages between processes in the human (socio-economic) and environment systems and sub-systems. The model is consistent with existing models of the biophysical earth system used by the land change, earth system sciences, and socio-ecological systems communities. The purposes of the model are to provide (i) a holistic framework within which descriptions, models and analyses that focus on various components of land can be placed to describe and explain land systems and land system changes; and (ii) a guide for the development of more fully integrated and interdisciplinary understanding, analysis and study of land use and land cover dynamics, with explicit focus on relationships between human and natural systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
In the Land of the Dammed: Assessing Governance in Resettlement of Ghana’s Bui Dam Project
Land 2017, 6(4), 80; doi:10.3390/land6040080 -
Abstract
Resettlement resulting from dam construction has raised several concerns due to the negative aftermath impacts. In Ghana, the construction of three hydroelectric dams resulted in large-scale resettlements. Given the little experience that Ghana has in resettlements, it is necessary for a robust monitoring
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Resettlement resulting from dam construction has raised several concerns due to the negative aftermath impacts. In Ghana, the construction of three hydroelectric dams resulted in large-scale resettlements. Given the little experience that Ghana has in resettlements, it is necessary for a robust monitoring structure for resettlements. However, this was not available in the last resettlement undertaken for the Bui Dam Project. This paper aims at developing an assessment framework for monitoring resettlement activities on customary lands from a good governance perspective. Based on four good governance principles, transparency, public participation and inclusiveness, equity and rule of law and accountability, a good governance assessment framework is built and applied to the Bui Dam Project using a case study approach. Data were collected through interviews and focus group discussion with the key actors of the resettlement project. It was first found that the planning stage of the resettlement came out with a robust plan that was to prevent the impoverishment of the affected persons. However, in the implementation of the resettlement, not all good governance principles were adhered to. In conclusion, it was found that by deconstructing the resettlement process with a good governance framework, the problematic areas of the resettlement can be effectively differentiated between the planning and implementation phases. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
What’s (Not) on the Map: Landscape Features from Participatory Sketch Mapping Differ from Local Categories Used in Language
Land 2017, 6(4), 79; doi:10.3390/land6040079 -
Abstract
Participatory mapping of local land use as the basis for planning and decision-making has become widespread around the globe. However, still relatively little is known about the conceptual underpinnings of geographic information produced through participatory mapping in given cultural and linguistic settings. In
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Participatory mapping of local land use as the basis for planning and decision-making has become widespread around the globe. However, still relatively little is known about the conceptual underpinnings of geographic information produced through participatory mapping in given cultural and linguistic settings. In this paper, we therefore address the seemingly simple question of what is (not) represented on maps through an exploratory case study comparing land use categories participants represented on sketch maps with categories elicited through more language-focused ethnographic fieldwork. To explore landscape categorization, we conducted sketch mapping with 29 participants and in-depth ethnographic fieldwork with 19 participants from the Takana indigenous people in the Bolivian Amazon. Sketch mapping resulted in 74 different feature types, while we elicited 156 landscape categories used in language, of which only 23 overlapped with feature types from the sketch mapping. Vegetation categories were highly diversified in language but seldom represented on maps, while more obviously anthropogenic features were represented on sketch maps. Furthermore, participants seldom drew culturally important landscape categories such as fallow plots or important plant harvesting sites on maps, with important potential consequences for natural resource management. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Water Rights on Community Lands: LandMark’s Findings from 100 Countries
Land 2017, 6(4), 77; doi:10.3390/land6040077 -
Abstract
This paper analyzes whether national laws acknowledge indigenous peoples and other rural communities in 100 countries as owners of waters that arise within their lands. Results derive from information collected by LandMark to score the legal status of community land tenure. Findings are
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This paper analyzes whether national laws acknowledge indigenous peoples and other rural communities in 100 countries as owners of waters that arise within their lands. Results derive from information collected by LandMark to score the legal status of community land tenure. Findings are positive; half of all countries recognize communities as lawful possessors of water on their lands. Three quarters permit communities to manage the distribution and use of water on their lands. While 71 percent of countries declare water to be a public resource, this belies the substantial existence of privately owned water. In 29 percent of countries, private water is an identified legal category, and in many other countries obtainable rights to water are sufficiently substantial to imply lawful possession. Communities are beneficiaries mainly where customary rights are accorded status as property rights, or where ownership of public lands and water are devolved to rural collectives. However, opposite trends of nationalization and regulation of water suggest that while legal recognition of community land ownership may rise in the future, this will not necessarily include waters on the land. Irrespective of tenure, rural communities in 72 of 77 countries (93.5 percent) are legally assured access to water for domestic purposes. This is consistent with the rising definition of safe drinking water as a human right, although access does not necessarily come free of cost. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Landscape Risk Assessment Model and Decision Support System for the Protection of the Natural and Cultural Heritage in the Eastern Mediterranean Area
Land 2017, 6(4), 76; doi:10.3390/land6040076 -
Abstract
In recent years, the competition of uses for scarce and highly valuable natural resources, and the frequency and severity of natural and technological disasters have increased, and this trend is likely to worsen in the years to come. In the Mediterranean area, especially
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In recent years, the competition of uses for scarce and highly valuable natural resources, and the frequency and severity of natural and technological disasters have increased, and this trend is likely to worsen in the years to come. In the Mediterranean area, especially in its Eastern part, the high human exploitation driven by different economic sectors and interests is resulting in intensive use of the land and its resources. Tourism intensification, rapid growth of urban settlement and related sprawl, movement and displacement of populations, rural abandonment, and adoption of different agricultural techniques are profoundly and rapidly changing the landscape character of the East Mediterranean. In view of the risks to cultural and natural heritage, a Landscape Risk Assessment Model (LRA) and Decision Support System (LDSS) were developed through the MedScapes-ENPI project. This paper reports the experience conducted at the Landscape Design and Ecosystem Management Department (LDEM) in the American University of Beirut (AUB) in developing the two tools, LRA and LDSS. It aims to provide insight into the methodology designed and tested during the length of the project to take into account the protection of landscapes of particular interest as well as the rational planning of all the landscapes with special emphasis on the use of natural resources. The assessment was applied in the study area of each partner country of the ENPI project, allowing for a better understanding of the implications in land-use and conservation decision-making. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Impact of Soil Depth and Topography on the Effectiveness of Conservation Practices on Discharge and Soil Loss in the Ethiopian Highlands
Land 2017, 6(4), 78; doi:10.3390/land6040078 -
Abstract
Restoration of degraded landscapes through the implementation of soil and water conservation practices is considered a viable option to increase agricultural production by enhancing ecosystems. However, in the humid Ethiopian highlands, little information is available on the impact of conservation practices despite wide
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Restoration of degraded landscapes through the implementation of soil and water conservation practices is considered a viable option to increase agricultural production by enhancing ecosystems. However, in the humid Ethiopian highlands, little information is available on the impact of conservation practices despite wide scale implementation. The objective of this research was to document the effect of conservation practices on discharge and sediment concentration and load in watersheds that have different soil depths and topography. Precipitation, discharge, and sediment concentration were measured from 2010 to 2012 in two watersheds in close proximity and located in the Lake Tana basin, Ethiopia: Tikur-Wuha and Guale watersheds. The Tikur-Wuha watershed has deep soils and a gentle slope stream channel. The Guale watershed has shallow soils and a steep slope stream channel. In early 2011, the local community installed upland conservation measures consisting of stone and soil bunds, waterways, cutoff drains, infiltration furrows, gully rehabilitation, and enclosures. The results show that conservation practices marginally decreased direct runoff in both watersheds and increased base flow in the Tikur-Wuha watershed. Average sediment concentration decreased by 81% in Tikur-Wuha and 45% in Guale. The practices intended to increase infiltration were most effective in the Tikur-Wuha watershed because the deep soil could store the infiltrated water and release it over a longer period of time after the rainy season than the steeper Guale watershed with shallow soils. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Impact of the Household Registration System on Farmers’ Rural Housing Land Use Decisions in China
Land 2017, 6(4), 75; doi:10.3390/land6040075 -
Abstract
By using the difference-in-difference method and introducing control variables, this study investigates the effect of the household registration system (hukou) on farmers’ willingness to transfer rural housing land based on survey data of farmers in Chongqing and Wuhan, China. The results
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By using the difference-in-difference method and introducing control variables, this study investigates the effect of the household registration system (hukou) on farmers’ willingness to transfer rural housing land based on survey data of farmers in Chongqing and Wuhan, China. The results show that the effect of household registration system reform is significant at the 1% level, which indicates that household registration system reform significantly influences farmers’ willingness to transfer rural housing land in the experimental area, leading to an increase in the share of farmers willing to transfer such land by 37%. In areas with greater efforts to reform the household registration system, farmers are more willing to transfer rural housing land. Moreover, the per capita non-farm income of rural households and compensation standard have a significantly positive correlation with farmers’ willingness. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effect of Climate and Agricultural Land Use Changes on UK Feed Barley Production and Food Security to the 2050s
Land 2017, 6(4), 74; doi:10.3390/land6040074 -
Abstract
Currently, the UK has a high self-sufficiency rate in barley production. This paper assessed the effects of projected climate and land use changes on feed barley production and, consequently, on meat supply in the UK from the 2030s to the 2050s. Total barley
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Currently, the UK has a high self-sufficiency rate in barley production. This paper assessed the effects of projected climate and land use changes on feed barley production and, consequently, on meat supply in the UK from the 2030s to the 2050s. Total barley production under projected land use and climate changes ranged from 4.6 million tons in the 2030s to 9.0 million tons in the 2050s. From these, the projected feed barley supply ranged from approximately 2.3 to 4.6 million tons from the 2030s to the 2050s, respectively. The results indicate that while UK spring barley production will thrive under, and benefit from climate change, total land area allocated to barley production will ultimately determine self-sufficiency. Without expansion in the area of land and/or further significant increases in yields, the UK may face large deficits in domestic feed barley production and, for that matter, meat supply in the future. Hence, agricultural and food security policy needs to consider, principally, the effect of agricultural land use change on key crops, such as barley. Even though the UK can import feed barley or meat to address the deficits observed in this study, the question that needs to be addressed is where all that import will come from. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Land Cover Change in Northern Botswana: The Influence of Climate, Fire, and Elephants on Semi-Arid Savanna Woodlands
Land 2017, 6(4), 73; doi:10.3390/land6040073 -
Abstract
Complex couplings and feedback among climate, fire, and herbivory drive short- and long-term patterns of land cover change (LCC) in savanna ecosystems. However, understanding of spatial and temporal LCC patterns in these environments is limited, particularly for semi-arid regions transitional between arid and
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Complex couplings and feedback among climate, fire, and herbivory drive short- and long-term patterns of land cover change (LCC) in savanna ecosystems. However, understanding of spatial and temporal LCC patterns in these environments is limited, particularly for semi-arid regions transitional between arid and more mesic climates. Here, we use post-classification analysis of Landsat TM (1990), ETM+ (2003), and OLI (2013) satellite imagery to classify and assess net and gross LCC for the Chobe District, a 21,000 km2 area encompassing urban, peri-urban, rural, communally-managed (Chobe Enclave), and protected land (Chobe National Park, CNP, and six protected forest reserves). We then evaluate spatiotemporal patterns of LCC in relation to precipitation, fire detections (MCD14M, 2001–2013) from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), and dry season elephant (Loxodonta africana) aerial survey data (2003, 2006, 2012, 2013). Woodland cover declined over the study period by 1514 km2 (16.2% of initial class total), accompanied by expansion of shrubland (1305 km2, 15.7%) and grassland (265 km2, 20.3%). Net LCC differed importantly in protected areas, with higher woodland losses observed in forest reserves compared to the CNP. Loss of woodland was also higher in communally-managed land for the study period, despite gains from 2003–2013. Gross (class) changes were characterized by extensive exchange between woodland and shrubland during both time steps, and a large expansion of shrubland into grassland and bare ground from 2003–2013. MODIS active fire detections were highly variable from year to year and among the different protected areas, ranging from 1.8 fires*year−1/km2 in the Chobe Forest Reserve to 7.1 fires*year−1/km2 in the Kasane Forest Reserve Extension. Clustering and timing of dry season fires suggests that ignitions were predominately from anthropogenic sources. Annual fire count was significantly related to total annual rainfall (p = 0.009, adj. R2 = 0.50), with a 41% increase in average fire occurrence in years when rainfall exceeded long-term mean annual precipitation (MAP). Loss of woodland was significantly associated with fire in locations experiencing 15 or more ignitions during the period 2001–2013 (p = 0.024). Although elephant-mediated damage is often cited as a major cause of woodland degradation in northern Botswana, we observed little evidence of unsustainable pressure on woodlands from growing elephant populations. Our data indicate broad-scale LCC processes in semi-arid savannas in Southern Africa are strongly coupled to environmental and anthropogenic forcings. Increased seasonal variability is likely to have important effects on the distribution of savanna plant communities due to climate-fire feedbacks. Long-term monitoring of LCC in these ecosystems is essential to improving land use planning and management strategies that protect biodiversity, as well as traditional cultures and livelihoods under future climate change scenarios for Southern Africa. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Investigating the Diversity and Variability of Eastern Mediterranean Landscapes
Land 2017, 6(4), 71; doi:10.3390/land6040071 -
Abstract
The aim of the paper is to examine the variability of eastern Mediterranean landscapes using a common mapping framework relying on Landscape Character Mapping (LCM). LCM was adapted to the region’s specificities placing emphasis on the area’s coastal nature, landform variation, land use,
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The aim of the paper is to examine the variability of eastern Mediterranean landscapes using a common mapping framework relying on Landscape Character Mapping (LCM). LCM was adapted to the region’s specificities placing emphasis on the area’s coastal nature, landform variation, land use, in particular pastoral tradition, and settlement patterns, an important output of this study. We selected six study areas, in four countries namely Cyprus, Greece, Jordan and Lebanon, based on their rich cultural and natural heritage, covering a NW to SE gradient of both environmental and cultural settings. We used commonly employed landscape metrics to quantify landscape diversity in the study areas. Similarity in landscape types among study area was measured using Sørensen similarity index. The Kruskall–Walis test was used to test the variability among countries in terms of landscape character variation due to physical and cultural factors. Linear regression was used to assess whether landscape diversity increases with area size. The work has identified and mapped a total of 69 landscape types, of which 18 are rare. Rare landscape types were related to specific geomorphology or intensive anthropogenic activities, which do not occur elsewhere in the East Mediterranean region. The highest similarity was recorded between islands and between mountainous areas. The larger the area the higher is its landscape diversity. This works fills a gap in Mediterranean and sets a benchmark standard for landscape characterization work in the East Mediterranean, so as to enable much greater consistency between countries in future landscape mapping exercises and, ultimately, facilitate trans-boundary cooperation in landscape-scale nature and culture conservation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Mapping Land Cover and Estimating the Grassland Structure in a Priority Area of the Chihuahuan Desert
Land 2017, 6(4), 70; doi:10.3390/land6040070 -
Abstract
A field characterization of the grassland vegetation structure, represented by the coverage of grass canopy (CGC) and the grass height, was carried out during three years (2009–2011) in a priority area for the conservation of grasslands of North America. Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM5)
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A field characterization of the grassland vegetation structure, represented by the coverage of grass canopy (CGC) and the grass height, was carried out during three years (2009–2011) in a priority area for the conservation of grasslands of North America. Landsat Thematic Mapper (TM5) images were selected and the information of reflectance was obtained based on the geographical location of each field-sampling site. Linear models, constructed with field and satellite data, with high coefficients of determination for CGC (R2 = 0.81, R2 = 0.81 and R2 = 0.72) and grass height (R2 = 0.82, R2 = 0.79 and R2 = 0.73) were obtained. The maps showed a good level of CGC (>25%) and grass height (>25 cm), except for the year 2009, which presented the lowest values of grass height in the area. According to the Kappa Index, a moderate concordance among the three CGC maps was presented (0.49–0.59). Conversely, weak and moderate concordances were found among the grass height maps (0.36–0.59). It was observed that areas with a high CGC do not necessarily correspond to areas with greater grass height values. Based on the data analyzed in this study, the grassland areas are highly dynamic, structurally heterogeneous and the spatial distribution of the variables does not show a definite pattern. From the information generated, it is possible to determine those areas that are the most important for monitoring to then establish effective strategies for the conservation of these grasslands and the protection of threatened migratory bird species. Full article
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