Sustainability2015, 7(10), 13631-13659; doi:10.3390/su71013631 - published 7 October 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Forest Ecological Security (FES) means coordinated development of forest ecosystems, social economies, and the forest environment. In this paper, we evaluate FES in Beijing under different designed scenarios using a dynamic systems model and find that first, the initial FES index value (in Scenario 0) increased to its highest level of 0.529 in 2012, but declined slightly to 0.485 by 2020. Second, in Scenarios 1–4, the FES index value reached 0.545, 0.516, 0.585 and 0.637 respectively in 2020, which was enhanced in varying degrees when compared with Scenario 0. The simulation shows the implementation of forest management policies, socioeconomic development and environmental management combine to affect the FES in Beijing. The FES could develop into a good state when the productivity of forest resources, the stability of forest environments and the orderly development of the social economy are carefully maintained (in Scenario 4). This research could provide decision-making in support of the overall improvement of forest conditions while promoting sustainable forestry in Beijing.
Sustainability2015, 7(10), 13610-13630; doi:10.3390/su71013610 - published 7 October 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Trust plays an important role between companies and customers in the online shopping environment because of the anonymous transaction environment and the advantage of virtual property. The most rapidly developing trend in Chinese e-business may come from Guanxi, a Chinese term for social trust. In this study, we define Guanxi as the dynamic trust process in the social decisions or activities of the Chinese. With increasing global attention on the outstanding development of Chinese e-business, it would be worthwhile to analyze the dynamic trust process of social e-commerce customers in close combination with the social network. The statistical results obtained using structural equation modeling (SEM) show the importance of trust in a social e-commerce context. The direct positive relationship between the components of the web marketing mix and purchase intention is partially mediated by initial trust and ongoing trust, while initial trust only partially affects purchase intention through ongoing trust.
Sustainability2015, 7(10), 13597-13609; doi:10.3390/su71013597 - published 7 October 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Southwest China (SC) has suffered a series of super extreme droughts in the last decade. This study analyzed the temporal and spatial variations of drought in SC from 1961 to 2012. Based on precipitation anomaly index (PAI) that was derived from 1 km gridded precipitation data, three time scales (month, year and decade) for the drought frequency (DF) and drought area were applied to estimate the spatio-temporal structure of droughts. A time-series analysis showed that winter droughts and spring droughts occurred frequently for almost half of the year from November to March. Summer droughts occasionally occurred in severe drought decades: the 1960s, 1980s and 2000s. During the period of observation, the percent of drought area in SC increased from the 1960s (<5%) to the 2000s (>25%). A total of 57% of the area was affected by drought in 2011, when the area experienced its most severe drought both in terms of area and severity. The spatial analysis, which benefitted from the gridded data, detailed that all of SC is at drought risk except for the central Sichuan Basin. The area at high risk for severe and extreme droughts was localized in the mountains of the junction of Sichuan and Yunnan. The temporal and spatial variability can be prerequisites for drought resistance planning and drought risk management of SC.
Sustainability2015, 7(10), 13585-13596; doi:10.3390/su71013585 - published 2 October 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The global use of nitrogen (N) fertilizer has increased 10-fold in the last fifty years, resulting in increased N losses via nitrate leaching to groundwater bodies or from gaseous emissions to the atmosphere. One of the biggest problems farmers face in agricultural production systems is the loss of N. In this context, novel biological nitrification inhibitors (BNI) using biochar (BC) as a renewable matrix to increase N use efficiency, by reducing nitrification rates, have been evaluated. The chemical and morphological characteristics of BC were analyzed and BC-BNI complexes were formulated using plant extracts from pine (Pinus radiata), eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus) and peumo (Cryptocarya alba). In field experiments, fertilizer and treatments, based on crude plant extracts and BC-BNI complexes, were applied and the effect on nitrification was periodically monitored, and at the laboratory level, a phytotoxicity assay was performed. The biochar-peumo (BCPe) complex showed the highest nitrification inhibition (66%) on day 60 after application compared with the crude plant extract, suggesting that BCPe complex protects the BNI against biotic or abiotic factors, and therefore BC-BNI complexes could increase the persistence of biological nitrification inhibitors. None of the biochar complexes had toxic effect on radish plants.
Sustainability2015, 7(10), 13564-13584; doi:10.3390/su71013564 - published 2 October 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: The Multifunctional Environmental Energy Tower (MEET) is a single, vertical, stand-alone renewable energy plant designed to decrease the primary energy consumption from fossil fuels, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to maximize the energy production from renewable sources available in place and to minimize land use. A feasibility case study was performed for the city of Rome, Italy. Several technologies are exploited and integrated in a single system, including a photovoltaic plant, a geothermal plant and a biomass digester for urban organic waste and sewage sludge. In the proposed configuration, the MEET could cover more than 11% of the electric power demand and up to 3% of the space heating demand of the surrounding urban area. An LCA analysis evaluates the environmental impact in a cradle-to-grave approach for two impact categories: global warming (carbon footprint) and land use (land occupation and land transformation). The functional unit is a mix of electric (49.1%) and thermal (50.9%) energy (kWhmix). The carbon footprint is 48.70 g CO2eq/kWhmix; the land transformation is 4.058 m2/GWhmix; and the land occupation is 969.3 m2y/GWhmix. With respect to other energy production technologies, the carbon footprint is lower and similar to the best-performing ones (e.g., co-generation from wood chips); both of the land use indicators are considerably smaller than the least-impacting technologies. A systematic study was finally performed, and possible optimizations of the original design are proposed. Thanks to the modular design, the conceptual idea can be easily applied to other urban and non-urban scenarios.
Sustainability2015, 7(10), 13542-13563; doi:10.3390/su71013542 - published 1 October 2015 Show/Hide Abstract
Abstract: Sustainable development is widely accepted in the world. How to reflect the sustainable development capacity of a region is an important issue for enacting policies and plans. An index system for capacity assessment is established by employing the Entropy Weight Coefficient method. The results indicate that the sustainable development capacity of Shandong Province is improving in terms of its economy subsystem, resource subsystem, and society subsystem whilst degrading in its environment subsystem. Shandong Province has shown the general trend towards sustainable development. However, the sustainable development capacity can be constrained by the resources such as energy, land, water, as well as environmental protection. These issues are induced by the economy development model, the security of energy supply, the level of new energy development, the end-of-pipe control of pollution, and the level of science and technology commercialization. Efforts are required to accelerate the development of the tertiary industry, the commercialization of high technology, the development of new energy and renewable energy, and the structure optimization of energy mix. Long-term measures need to be established for the ecosystem and environment protection.