Open AccessArticle
The Socio-Ecological Dynamics of Human Responses in a Land Degradation-Affected Region: The Messara Valley (Crete, Greece)
Land 2017, 6(3), 45; doi:10.3390/land6030045 (registering DOI) -
Abstract
This paper applies a resilience- and assemblage-based methodology to study the socio-ecological dynamics of human responses in the land degradation-affected Messara Valley (Crete, Greece) socio-ecological system, from 1950 to 2010. It posits that thesedynamics aredriven by changes in their effectiveness, called ‘socio-ecological fit’,
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This paper applies a resilience- and assemblage-based methodology to study the socio-ecological dynamics of human responses in the land degradation-affected Messara Valley (Crete, Greece) socio-ecological system, from 1950 to 2010. It posits that thesedynamics aredriven by changes in their effectiveness, called ‘socio-ecological fit’, to serve place- and time-specific goals. The socio-ecological fit expresses the degree to which the match among all the biophysical and human components of a Response Assemblage emerging in a socio-ecological system, maintains the socio-ecological resilience of this Assemblage. The socio-ecological resilience results is gauged by synthesizing three system-level properties (Resilience, Adaptability, Transformability) shaped by lower level properties that are assessed from available data. The reported application revealed that human responses (traditional land management, agricultural modernization and subsidized agriculture) and their effectiveness were driven by prioritizing economic and technological considerations that shaped the properties, socio-ecological resilience and fit of three main Response Assemblages formed over the study period, rather than combating land degradation. Agricultural modernization did not uniformly and necessarily lead to land degradation; the situated relationships among the components of the Response Assemblages determined its effects. The fit of future options can be assessed also to support rational land use planning. Refinements in the methodology include the development of techniques to: (a) assess and synthesize the properties of different components in order to improve assessments of socio-ecological resilience and fit and (b) study relationships among the properties of Response Assemblages emerging at different levels. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
From Producers to Consumers: The Challenges and Opportunities of Agricultural Development in Iraqi Kurdistan
Land 2017, 6(2), 44; doi:10.3390/land6020044 -
Abstract
Agriculture and rural life in the Middle East have gone through several changes in the past few decades. The region is characterized by high population growth, urbanization, and water scarcity, which poses a challenge to maintaining food security and production. This paper investigates
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Agriculture and rural life in the Middle East have gone through several changes in the past few decades. The region is characterized by high population growth, urbanization, and water scarcity, which poses a challenge to maintaining food security and production. This paper investigates agricultural and rural challenges in the Duhok governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan from biophysical, political, and socio-economic perspectives. Satellite data is used to study land use and productivity, while a review of government policies and interview data show the perspectives of the government and the local population. Our results reveal that these perspectives are not necessarily in line with each other, nor do they correspond well with the biophysical possibilities. While the government has been trying to increase agricultural productivity, satellite data show that yields have been declining since 2000. Furthermore, a lack of services in rural areas is driving people to cities to seek better opportunities, which means that the local population’s incentive to increase agricultural activity is low. Governmental plans suggest land extensification to increase production and self-sufficiency, but the land use classification shows little available land. Instead, we recommend supporting small-scale traditional agriculture development as a more sustainable and feasible alternative. Additionally, more resources need to be focused on improving rural infrastructure and services to increase access to education and health care as a means of gaining support from the local population. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Numerical Investigation of Aggregated Fuel Spatial Pattern Impacts on Fire Behavior
Land 2017, 6(2), 43; doi:10.3390/land6020043 -
Abstract
Landscape heterogeneity shapes species distributions, interactions, and fluctuations. Historically, in dry forest ecosystems, low canopy cover and heterogeneous fuel patterns often moderated disturbances like fire. Over the last century, however, increases in canopy cover and more homogeneous patterns have contributed to altered fire
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Landscape heterogeneity shapes species distributions, interactions, and fluctuations. Historically, in dry forest ecosystems, low canopy cover and heterogeneous fuel patterns often moderated disturbances like fire. Over the last century, however, increases in canopy cover and more homogeneous patterns have contributed to altered fire regimes with higher fire severity. Fire management strategies emphasize increasing within-stand heterogeneity with aggregated fuel patterns to alter potential fire behavior. Yet, little is known about how such patterns may affect fire behavior, or how sensitive fire behavior changes from fuel patterns are to winds and canopy cover. Here, we used a physics-based fire behavior model, FIRETEC, to explore the impacts of spatially aggregated fuel patterns on the mean and variability of stand-level fire behavior, and to test sensitivity of these effects to wind and canopy cover. Qualitative and quantitative approaches suggest that spatial fuel patterns can significantly affect fire behavior. Based on our results we propose three hypotheses: (1) aggregated spatial fuel patterns primarily affect fire behavior by increasing variability; (2) this variability should increase with spatial scale of aggregation; and (3) fire behavior sensitivity to spatial pattern effects should be more pronounced under moderate wind and fuel conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Monitoring Urban Growth and the Nepal Earthquake 2015 for Sustainability of Kathmandu Valley, Nepal
Land 2017, 6(2), 42; doi:10.3390/land6020042 -
Abstract
The exodus of people from rural areas to cities brings many detrimental environmental, social and cultural consequences. Monitoring spatiotemporal change by referencing the historical timeline or incidence has become an important way to analyze urbanization. This study has attempted to attain the cross-sectional
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The exodus of people from rural areas to cities brings many detrimental environmental, social and cultural consequences. Monitoring spatiotemporal change by referencing the historical timeline or incidence has become an important way to analyze urbanization. This study has attempted to attain the cross-sectional analysis of Kathmandu valley that has been plagued by rampant urbanization over the last three decades. The research utilizes Landsat images of Kathmandu valley from 1976 to 2015 for the transition analysis of land use, land cover and urban sprawl for the last four decades. Results showed that the urban coverage of Kathmandu valley has tremendously increased from 20.19 km2 in 1976 to 39.47 km2 in 1989 to 78.96 km2 in 2002 to 139.57 km2 in 2015, at the cost of cultivated lands, with an average annual urban growth rate of 7.34%, 7.70% and 5.90% in each temporal interval, respectively. In addition, the urban expansion orientation analysis concludes the significant urban concentration in the eastern part, moderately medium in the southwest and relatively less in the western and northwest part of the valley. Urbanization was solely accountable for the exploitation of extant forests, fertile and arable lands and indigenous and cultural landscapes. Unattended fallow lands in suburban areas have compounded the problem by welcoming invasive alien species. Overlaying the highly affected geological formations within the major city centers displays that unless the trend of rapid, unplanned urbanization is discontinued, the future of Kathmandu is at the high risk. Since land use management is a fundamental part of development, we advocate for the appropriate land use planning and policies for sustainable and secure future development. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Biodiversity in Locally Managed Lands
Land 2017, 6(2), 41; doi:10.3390/land6020041 -
Abstract
Decentralizing natural resource management to local people, especially in tropical countries, has become a trend. We review recent evidence for the impacts of decentralization on the biodiversity values of forests and forested landscapes, which encompass most of the biodiversity of the tropics. Few
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Decentralizing natural resource management to local people, especially in tropical countries, has become a trend. We review recent evidence for the impacts of decentralization on the biodiversity values of forests and forested landscapes, which encompass most of the biodiversity of the tropics. Few studies document the impact of decentralized management on biodiversity. We conclude that there may be situations where local management is a good option for biodiversity but there are also situations where this is not the case. We advocate increased research to document the impact of local management on biodiversity. We also argue that locally managed forests should be seen as components of landscapes where governance arrangements favor the achievement of a balance between the local livelihood values and the global public goods values of forests. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Landscape Archaeology and Sacred Space in the Eastern Mediterranean: A Glimpse from Cyprus
Land 2017, 6(2), 40; doi:10.3390/land6020040 -
Abstract
This article aims to raise issues for discussion about the change in the use and concept of sacred landscapes, which were originally constructed in the era of the Cypriot kings (the basileis), but then continued to function in a new imperial environment,
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This article aims to raise issues for discussion about the change in the use and concept of sacred landscapes, which were originally constructed in the era of the Cypriot kings (the basileis), but then continued to function in a new imperial environment, that of the rule of the Ptolemaic strategos and later of the Roman proconsul and the various Christian bishops. Our archaeological survey project in the Xeros river valley, titled ‘Settled and Sacred Landscapes of Cyprus’, reveals that these new politico-economic structures were also supported by the construction of symbolically charged sacred landscapes. Thus, while outlining the long history of the island as manifested from the diachronic study of Cypriot sacred landscapes, we identify three pivotal phases: first, the consolidation of the Cypriot polities and the establishment of a ‘full’ sacred landscape; second, the transition from segmented to unitary administration under the Ptolemaic and Roman imperial rule and the consolidation of a more ‘unified sacred landscape’; and finally, the establishment of a number of Christian bishoprics on the island and the movement back to a ‘full’ sacred landscape. Moving beyond the discipline of Cypriot archaeology, this contribution aims to serve as a paradigm for the implications that the employment of the ‘sacred landscapes’ concept may have when addressing issues of socio-political and socio-economic transformations. While it is very difficult to define or capture the concept of landscape in a pre-modern world, it offers a useful means by which to assess changing local conditions. We have also attempted to situate the term in archaeological thought, in order to allow the concept to become a more powerful investigative tool for approaching the past. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Detection of Land Subsidence in Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, Using DInSAR Technique
Land 2017, 6(2), 39; doi:10.3390/land6020039 -
Abstract
Differential Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (DInSAR) is a remote sensing technique that is capable of detecting land surface deformation with centimeter accuracy. In this research, this technique was applied to two pairs of Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array L-band SAR (PALSAR)
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Differential Synthetic Aperture Radar Interferometry (DInSAR) is a remote sensing technique that is capable of detecting land surface deformation with centimeter accuracy. In this research, this technique was applied to two pairs of Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) Phased Array L-band SAR (PALSAR) data to detect land subsidence in the Kathmandu valley from 2007 to 2010. The result revealed several subsidence areas towards the center of the valley ranging from a maximum of 9.9 km2 to a minimum of 1 km2 coverage with a maximum velocity of 4.8 cm/year, and a minimum velocity of 1.1 cm/year, respectively. The majority of the subsidence was observed in old settlement areas with mixed use development. The subsidence depth was found to gradually increase from the periphery towards the center in almost all detected subsidence areas. The subsidence depth was found to be in a range of 1 cm to 17 cm. It was found that the concentration of deep water extraction wells was higher in areas with higher subsidence rates. It was also found that the detected subsidence area was situated over geological formations mainly consisting of unconsolidated fine-grained sediments (silica, sand, silt, clay and silty sandy gravel), which is the major factor affecting the occurrence of land subsidence due to groundwater extraction. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Review on Remote Sensing of Urban Heat and Cool Islands
Land 2017, 6(2), 38; doi:10.3390/land6020038 -
Abstract
The variation between land surface temperature (LST) within a city and its surrounding area is a result of variations in surface cover, thermal capacity and three-dimensional geometry. The objective of this research is to review the state of knowledge and current research to
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The variation between land surface temperature (LST) within a city and its surrounding area is a result of variations in surface cover, thermal capacity and three-dimensional geometry. The objective of this research is to review the state of knowledge and current research to quantify surface urban heat islands (SUHI) and surface urban cool islands (SUCI). In order to identify open issues and gaps remaining in this field, we review research on SUHI/SUCI, the models for simulating UHIs/UCIs and techniques used in this field were appraised. The appraisal has revealed some great progress made in surface UHI mapping of cities located in humid and vegetated (temperate) regions, whilst few studies have investigated the spatiotemporal variation of surface SUHI/SUCI and the effect of land use/land cover (LULC) change on LST in arid and semi-arid climates. While some progress has been made, models for simulating UHI/UCI have been advancing only slowly. We conclude and suggest that SUHI/SUCI in arid and semi-arid areas requires more in-depth study. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Status of National Legal Frameworks for Valuing Compensation for Expropriated Land: An Analysis of Whether National Laws in 50 Countries/Regions across Asia, Africa, and Latin America Comply with International Standards on Compensation Valuation
Land 2017, 6(2), 37; doi:10.3390/land6020037 -
Abstract
The challenges associated with determining fair compensation for expropriated land have been extensively discussed and debated among scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and the public. However, to date, a comprehensive study of national-level compensation procedures established by law considering whether such procedures meet internationally recognized
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The challenges associated with determining fair compensation for expropriated land have been extensively discussed and debated among scholars, practitioners, policymakers, and the public. However, to date, a comprehensive study of national-level compensation procedures established by law considering whether such procedures meet internationally recognized standards on compensation valuation has not been conducted. This article aims to bridge this gap by serving as a reference point and informing “fair compensation” debates among scholars, practitioners, and policymakers. This article examines national-level legal provisions on compensation in 50 countries/regions across Asia, Africa, and Latin America against a set of legal indicators that are based on international standards on the valuation of compensation. The legal indicators focus on the substantive and procedural requirements pertaining to the calculation of compensation. The indicators ask whether laws require assessors to account for various land values when calculating compensation, and whether there are legal processes in place that allow affected persons to negotiate compensation amounts, receive prompt payments, and hold governments accountable by appealing compensation decisions in courts or before tribunals. The results of the study show that most of the 50 countries/regions assessed do not have national laws that comply with internationally recognized standards on the valuation of compensation. Based on the findings from the legal indicator analysis, this paper presents a set of recommendations for reforming compensation procedures to bring them into conformity with international standards. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Modeling Future Land Cover Changes and Their Effects on the Land Surface Temperatures in the Saudi Arabian Eastern Coastal City of Dammam
Land 2017, 6(2), 36; doi:10.3390/land6020036 -
Abstract
Over the past several decades, Saudi cities have experienced rapid urban developments and land use and land cover (LULC) changes. These developments will have numerous short- and long-term consequences including increasing the land surface temperature (LST) of these cities. This study investigated the
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Over the past several decades, Saudi cities have experienced rapid urban developments and land use and land cover (LULC) changes. These developments will have numerous short- and long-term consequences including increasing the land surface temperature (LST) of these cities. This study investigated the effects of LULC changes on the LST for the eastern coastal city of Dammam. Using Landsat imagery, the study first detected the LULC using the maximum likelihood classification method and derived the LSTs for the years 1990, 2002, and 2014. Using the classified results, it then modeled the future LULC for 2026 using the Cellular Automata Markov (CAM) model. Finally, using three thematic indices and linear regression analysis, it then modeled the LST for 2026 as well. The built-up area in Dammam increased by 28.9% between 1990 and 2014. During this period, the average LSTs for the LULC classes increased as well, with bare soil and built-up area having the highest LST. By 2026, the urban area is expected to encompass 55% of the city and 98% of the land cover is envisioned to have average LSTs over 41 °C. Such high temperatures will make it difficult for the residents to live in the area. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Quantifying the National Significance of Local Areas for Regional Conservation Planning: North Carolina’s Mountain Treasures
Land 2017, 6(2), 35; doi:10.3390/land6020035 -
Abstract
Conservation scientists recognize that additional protected areas are needed to maintain biological diversity and ecological processes. As regional conservation planners embark on recommending additional areas for protection in formal ecological reserves, it is important to evaluate candidate lands for their role in building
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Conservation scientists recognize that additional protected areas are needed to maintain biological diversity and ecological processes. As regional conservation planners embark on recommending additional areas for protection in formal ecological reserves, it is important to evaluate candidate lands for their role in building a resilient protected areas system of the future. Here, we evaluate North Carolina’s Mountain Treasures with respect to their (1) ecological integrity, (2) role in connecting existing core protected areas, (3) potential to diversify the ecosystem representation of reserves, and (4) role in maintaining hotspots of biologically-rich areas that are not well protected. Mountain Treasures represent a citizen inventory of roadless areas and serve as candidates for elevated levels of conservation protection on U.S. federal lands. We compared Mountain Treasures to other candidate lands throughout the country to evaluate their potential national significance. While the Mountain Treasures tended to be more impacted by human modifications than other roadless areas, they are as important as other roadless areas with respect to their role in connecting existing protected areas and diversifying representation of ecosystems in conservation reserves. However, Mountain Treasures tended to have a much higher biodiversity priority index than other roadless areas leading to an overall higher composite score compared to other roadless areas. Our analysis serves as an example of how using broad-scale datasets can help conservation planners assess the national significance of local areas. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Validation and Inter-Comparison of Spaceborne Derived Global and Continental Land Cover Products for the Mediterranean Region: The Case of Thessaly
Land 2017, 6(2), 34; doi:10.3390/land6020034 -
Abstract
Space agencies, international and national organisations and institutions recognize the importance of regularly updated and homogenized land cover information, in the context of both nomenclature and spatial resolution. Moreover, ensuring credibility to the users through validated products with transparent procedures is similarly of
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Space agencies, international and national organisations and institutions recognize the importance of regularly updated and homogenized land cover information, in the context of both nomenclature and spatial resolution. Moreover, ensuring credibility to the users through validated products with transparent procedures is similarly of great importance. To this end, this study contributes with a systematic accuracy performance evaluation of continental and global land cover layers. Confidence levels during validation and a weighted accuracy assessment were designed and applied. Google Earth imagery were employed to assess the accuracy of three land cover products for the years 2010 and 2012. Results indicate high weighted overall accuracy rates of 89, 90, and 86% for CORINE Land Cover 2012, GIO High Resolution Layers, and Globeland30 datasets, respectively. Moreover, their inter-comparison highlights notable differences especially for classes Artificial Surfaces and Water. The deviation of specific classes from the general producer’s and user’s accuracy trends were identified. It is concluded that the different aspects of the employed land cover products can be highlighted more transparently and objectively by integrating confidence levels during the reference data annotation, by employing a stratified sampling based on the several Corine Level-3 subclasses and by applying a weighted overall accuracy procedure. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Application of Anthromes to Frame Scenario Planning for Landscape-Scale Conservation Decision Making
Land 2017, 6(2), 33; doi:10.3390/land6020033 -
Abstract
Complexities in the rates and patterns of change necessitate the consideration of alternate futures in planning processes. These scenarios, and the inputs and assumptions used to build them, should reflect both ecological and social contexts. Considering the regional landscape as an anthrome, a
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Complexities in the rates and patterns of change necessitate the consideration of alternate futures in planning processes. These scenarios, and the inputs and assumptions used to build them, should reflect both ecological and social contexts. Considering the regional landscape as an anthrome, a priori, assumes human needs and institutions have a fundamental role and place in these futures, but that institutions incorporate ecological limits in decision making. As a case study of conservation scenario planning under the anthrome paradigm, we used a suite of InVEST models to develop and explore land use and land cover scenarios and to measure the associated change in biodiversity and ecosystem services in a region where dense settlements are expanding into populated and residential woodland anthromes. While tradeoffs between benefits in alternative futures are unavoidable, we found that distinct conservation opportunities arise within and around the protected areas and in the heterogeneous urban core of the county. Reflecting on the process and subsequent findings, we discuss why anthromes can be a more suitable framing for scenarios used in conservation decision making and land use planning. Specifically, we discuss how starting with anthromes influenced assumptions about inputs and opportunities and the decisions related to the planning for human and natural systems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Historical Land Use Dynamics in the Highly Degraded Landscape of the Calhoun Critical Zone Observatory
Land 2017, 6(2), 32; doi:10.3390/land6020032 -
Abstract
Processes of land degradation and regeneration display fine scale heterogeneity often intimately linked with land use. Yet, examinations of the relationships between land use and land degradation often lack the resolution necessary to understand how local institutions differentially modulate feedback between individual farmers
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Processes of land degradation and regeneration display fine scale heterogeneity often intimately linked with land use. Yet, examinations of the relationships between land use and land degradation often lack the resolution necessary to understand how local institutions differentially modulate feedback between individual farmers and the spatially heterogeneous effects of land use on soils. In this paper, we examine an historical example of a transition from agriculture to forest dominated land use (c. 1933–1941) in a highly degraded landscape on the Piedmont of South Carolina. Our landscape-scale approach examines land use and tenure at the level that individuals enact management decisions. We used logistic regression techniques to examine associations between land use, land tenure, topography, and market cost-distance. Our findings suggest that farmer responses to changing market and policy conditions were influenced by topographic characteristics associated with productivity and long-term viability of agricultural land use. Further, although local environmental feedbacks help to explain spatial patterning of land use, property regime and land tenure arrangements also significantly constrained the ability of farmers to adapt to changing socioeconomic and environmental conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Rangelands: Where Anthromes Meet Their Limits
Land 2017, 6(2), 31; doi:10.3390/land6020031 -
Abstract
Defining rangelands as anthromes enabled Ellis and Ramankutty (2008) to conclude that more than three-quarters of Earth’s land is anthropogenic; without rangelands, this figure would have been less than half. They classified all lands grazed by domestic livestock as rangelands, provided that human
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Defining rangelands as anthromes enabled Ellis and Ramankutty (2008) to conclude that more than three-quarters of Earth’s land is anthropogenic; without rangelands, this figure would have been less than half. They classified all lands grazed by domestic livestock as rangelands, provided that human population densities were low; similar areas without livestock were excluded and classified instead as ‘wildlands’. This paper examines the empirical basis and conceptual assumptions of defining and categorizing rangelands in this fashion. Empirically, we conclude that a large proportion of rangelands, although used to varying degrees by domesticated livestock, are not altered significantly by this use, especially in arid, highly variable environments and in settings with long evolutionary histories of herbivory by wild animals. Even where changes have occurred, the dynamics and components of many rangelands remain structurally and functionally equivalent to those that preceded domestic livestock grazing or would be found in its absence. In much of Africa and Asia, grazing is so longstanding as to be inextricable from ‘natural’ or reference conditions for those sites. Thus, the extent of anthropogenic biomes is significantly overstated. Conceptually, rangelands reveal the dependence of the anthromes thesis on outdated assumptions of ecological climax and equilibrium. Coming to terms with rangelands—how they can be classified, understood, and managed sustainably—thus offers important lessons for understanding anthromes and the Anthropocene as a whole. At the root of these lessons, we argue, is not the question of human impacts on ecosystems but property relations among humans. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Spatial and Temporal Characteristics of Road Networks and Urban Expansion
Land 2017, 6(2), 30; doi:10.3390/land6020030 -
Abstract
Urban expansion has become a widespread trend in developing countries. Road networks are an extremely important factor driving the expansion of urban land and require further study. To investigate the relationship between road networks and urban expansion, we selected Beijing, New York, London,
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Urban expansion has become a widespread trend in developing countries. Road networks are an extremely important factor driving the expansion of urban land and require further study. To investigate the relationship between road networks and urban expansion, we selected Beijing, New York, London, and Chicago as study areas. First, we obtained urban land use vector data through image interpretation using a remote sensing (RS) and geographic information systems (GIS) platform and then used overlay analysis to extract information on urban expansion. A road network density map was generated using the density analysis tool. Finally, we conducted a spatial statistical analysis between road networks and urban expansion and then systematically analyzed their distribution features. In addition, the Urban Expansion-Road Network Density Model was established based on regression analysis. The results indicate that (1) the road network density thresholds of Beijing, New York, London, and Chicago are 18.9 km/km2, 37.8 km/km2, 57.0 km/km2, and 64.7 km/km2, respectively, and urban expansion has an inverted U-curve relationship with road networks when the road network density does not exceed the threshold; (2) the calculated turning points for urban expansion indicate that urban expansion initially accelerates with increasing road network density but then decreases after the turning point is reached; and (3) when the road density exceeds the threshold, urban areas cease to expand. The correlation between urban expansion and road network features provides an important reference for the future development of global cities. Understanding road network density offers some predictive capabilities for urban land expansion, facilitates the avoidance of irregular expansion, and provides new ideas for addressing the inefficient utilization of land. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Historical Analysis of Riparian Vegetation Change in Response to Shifting Management Objectives on the Middle Rio Grande
Land 2017, 6(2), 29; doi:10.3390/land6020029 -
Abstract
Riparian ecosystems are valuable to the ecological and human communities that depend on them. Over the past century, they have been subject to shifting management practices to maximize human use and ecosystem services, creating a complex relationship between water policy, management, and the
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Riparian ecosystems are valuable to the ecological and human communities that depend on them. Over the past century, they have been subject to shifting management practices to maximize human use and ecosystem services, creating a complex relationship between water policy, management, and the natural ecosystem. This has necessitated research on the spatial and temporal dynamics of riparian vegetation change. The San Acacia Reach of the Middle Rio Grande has experienced multiple management and river flow fluctuations, resulting in threats to its riparian and aquatic ecosystems. This research uses remote sensing data, GIS, a review of management decisions, and an assessment of climate to both quantify how riparian vegetation has been altered over time and provide interpretations of the relationships between riparian change and shifting climate and management objectives. This research focused on four management phases from 1935 to 2014, each highlighting different management practices and climate-driven river patterns, providing unique opportunities to observe a direct relationship between river management, climate, and riparian response. Overall, we believe that management practices coupled with reduced surface river-flows with limited overbank flooding influenced the compositional and spatial patterns of vegetation, including possibly increasing non-native vegetation coverage. However, recent restoration efforts have begun to reduce non-native vegetation coverage. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Factors Influencing Perceptions and Use of Urban Nature: Surveys of Park Visitors in Delhi
Land 2017, 6(2), 27; doi:10.3390/land6020027 -
Abstract
Urban green spaces provide important recreational, social and psychological benefits to stressed city residents. This paper aims to understand the importance of parks for visitors. We focus on Delhi, the world’s second most populous city, drawing on 123 interviews with park visitors in
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Urban green spaces provide important recreational, social and psychological benefits to stressed city residents. This paper aims to understand the importance of parks for visitors. We focus on Delhi, the world’s second most populous city, drawing on 123 interviews with park visitors in four prominent city parks. Almost all respondents expressed the need for more green spaces. Visitors valued parks primarily for environmental and psychological/health benefits. They had limited awareness of biodiversity, with one out of three visitors unable to identify tree species and one out of four visitors unable to identify animal species frequenting the park. Most of the daily visitors lived within 0.5 km of these parks, but a small fraction of visitors traveled over 10 km to visit these major parks, despite having smaller neighbourhood parks in their vicinity. This study demonstrates the importance of large, well-maintained, publicly accessible parks in a crowded city. The results can help to better plan and design urban green spaces, responding to the needs and preferences of urban communities. This research contributes to the severely limited information on people’s perceptions of and requirements from urban nature in cities of the Global South. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Agricultural Land Fragmentation at Urban Fringes: An Application of Urban-To-Rural Gradient Analysis in Adelaide
Land 2017, 6(2), 28; doi:10.3390/land6020028 -
Abstract
One of the major consequences of expansive urban growth is the degradation and loss of productive agricultural land and agroecosystem functions. Four landscape metrics—Percentage of Land (PLAND), Mean Parcel Size (MPS), Parcel Density (PD), and Modified Simpson’s Diversity Index (MSDI)—were calculated for 1
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One of the major consequences of expansive urban growth is the degradation and loss of productive agricultural land and agroecosystem functions. Four landscape metrics—Percentage of Land (PLAND), Mean Parcel Size (MPS), Parcel Density (PD), and Modified Simpson’s Diversity Index (MSDI)—were calculated for 1 km × 1 km cells along three 50 km-long transects that extend out from the Adelaide CBD, in order to analyze variations in landscape structures. Each transect has different land uses beyond the built-up area, and they differ in topography, soils, and rates of urban expansion. Our new findings are that zones of agricultural land fragmentation can be identified by the relationships between MPS and PD, that these occur in areas where PD ranges from 7 and 35, and that these occur regardless of distance along the transect, land use, topography, soils, or rates of urban growth. This suggests a geometry of fragmentation that may be consistent, and indicates that quantification of both land use and land-use change in zones of fragmentation is potentially important in planning. Full article
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Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
Analysis of Urban Green Spaces Based on Sentinel-2A: Case Studies from Slovakia
Land 2017, 6(2), 25; doi:10.3390/land6020025 -
Abstract
Urban expansion and its ecological footprint increases globally at an unprecedented scale and consequently, the importance of urban greenery assessment grows. The diversity and quality of urban green spaces (UGS) and human well-being are tightly linked, and UGS provide a wide range of
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Urban expansion and its ecological footprint increases globally at an unprecedented scale and consequently, the importance of urban greenery assessment grows. The diversity and quality of urban green spaces (UGS) and human well-being are tightly linked, and UGS provide a wide range of ecosystem services (e.g., urban heat mitigation, stormwater infiltration, food security, physical recreation). Analyses and inter-city comparison of UGS patterns and their functions requires not only detailed information on their relative quantity but also a closer examination of UGS in terms of quality and land use, which can be derived from the land cover composition and spatial structure. In this study, we present an approach to UGS extraction from newly available Sentinel-2A satellite imagery, provided in the frame of the European Copernicus program. We investigate and map the spatial distribution of UGS in three cities in Slovakia: Bratislava, Žilina and Trnava. Supervised maximum likelihood classification was used to identify UGS polygons. Based on their function and physiognomy, each UGS polygon was assigned to one of the fifteen classes, and each class was further described by the proportion of tree canopy and its ecosystem services. Our results document that the substantial part of UGS is covered by the class Urban greenery in family housing areas (mainly including privately-owned gardens) with the class abundance between 17.7% and 42.2% of the total UGS area. The presented case studies showed the possibilities of semi-automatic extraction of UGS classes from Sentinel-2A data that may improve the transfer of scientific knowledge to local urban environmental monitoring and management. Full article
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