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Special Issue "Defining and Assessing Landscape and Urban Sustainability: Linking Spatial Patterns, Ecosystems Services, and Human Wellbeing"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2017

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Jianguo (Jingle) Wu

School of Life Sciences, School of Sustainability, and Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 874501, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: landscape ecology; urban ecology; biodiversity and ecosystem functioning; sustainability science (ecosystem services and human well-being)

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainability is the theme of our time, and must be achieved on local, regional, and global scales for the persistence and prosperity of humanity. But local scales are frequently too small to adequately consider key environmental, economic, and social processes, while the global scale is often too large to conduct mechanistic studies that link biodiversity, ecosystem function, ecosystem services, socioeconomic processes, institutional dynamics, and human wellbeing, which is required to produce actionable science and policy-relevant knowledge. Therefore, landscapes and regions represent a pivotal scale domain for developing the science and promoting the practice of sustainability.

This Special Issue aims to help advance the science and practice of sustainability on landscape and regional scales—including large natural areas, agricultural/grazing landscapes, urban landscapes, metropolitan regions, and coupled human–environment systems in different sociocultural settings around the world. Three kinds of papers will be included in this Special Issue: (1) Theory and principles of landscape sustainability, urban sustainability, and regional sustainability, which link spatial patterns, ecosystems services, and human wellbeing; (2) Indicator- and model-based assessment of sustainability on landscape and regional scales; and (3) Design and planning studies that can guide sustainability policy-making and practices on the ground. Papers that integrate two of the three aspects or all of them are particularly welcome. To ensure the quality and impact of the Special Issue, each and every manuscript must show an adequate awareness of the primary literature on sustainability science, landscape sustainability, and urban sustainability, and discuss specific case studies in a broader sustainability context. Also, each manuscript will be peer-reviewed rigorously by at least two established scientists in relevant fields.

Prof. Dr. Jianguo (Jingle) Wu
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Landscape ecology and sustainability
  • Landscape sustainability science
  • Urban sustainability
  • Coupled human–environmental systems
  • Linking biodiversity, ecosystem services and human wellbeing
  • Sustainability assessment
  • Sustainability indicators and indices
  • Sustainable landscape design and planning

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Assessing Urban Sustainability Using a Multi-Scale, Theme-Based Indicator Framework: A Case Study of the Yangtze River Delta Region, China
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 2072; doi:10.3390/su9112072
Received: 11 October 2017 / Revised: 2 November 2017 / Accepted: 6 November 2017 / Published: 10 November 2017
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Abstract
Urban sustainability is a great concern worldwide. However, how to evaluate urban sustainability is still a big challenge because sustainable development is multifaceted and scale dependent, which demands various assessment methods and indicators that often do not reach a consensus. In this study,
[...] Read more.
Urban sustainability is a great concern worldwide. However, how to evaluate urban sustainability is still a big challenge because sustainable development is multifaceted and scale dependent, which demands various assessment methods and indicators that often do not reach a consensus. In this study, we assessed urban sustainability of the Yangtze River Delta (YRD), China during 2000–2014 at two spatial scales (corresponding to the administrative levels of province and prefecture). A theme-based indicator framework, cluster analysis and Mann–Kendall test were used for urban sustainability assessment. Our results showed that the overall (OS), social (SS), and economic sustainability (EcS) scores for two provinces and sixteen prefectural cities increased from 2000 to 2014 in general, but the environmental sustainability (EnS) scores decreased over time. According to the performance of SS, EnS and EcS at the prefectural level, three distinct city clusters were identified: Cluster 1 with high SS and EcS but low EnS; Cluster 2 with low SS and EcS but high EnS; and Cluster 3 with moderate SS, EnS and EcS. The three sustainability dimensions—society, environment and economy—all changed over time and differed among cities at the two administrative levels. Our results implied that, according to the “strong sustainability” perspective, the cities of the YRD became less sustainable or unsustainable because the social and economic progresses were at the expense of the environment. The level of urban sustainability was lower at the provincial level than the prefectural level, implying that the problems of unsustainability are even greater at the provincial level than the prefectural level in the YRD region. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Spatial Pattern of Carbon Sequestration and Urban Sustainability: Analysis of Land-Use and Carbon Emission in Guang’an, China
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 1951; doi:10.3390/su9111951
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 6 October 2017 / Accepted: 23 October 2017 / Published: 26 October 2017
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Abstract
The state of the urban carbon cycle is an important indicator for managing fossil energy consumption and land resources and it is also a basis for the planning of urban eco-services and urban sustainable development. This paper aims to analyze the spatial distribution
[...] Read more.
The state of the urban carbon cycle is an important indicator for managing fossil energy consumption and land resources and it is also a basis for the planning of urban eco-services and urban sustainable development. This paper aims to analyze the spatial distribution of the carbon cycle of the mono-centric cities, based on the von Thünen concentric ring theory, using the InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs) model and an atmospheric diffusion model to assess the carbon sequestration capacity of land cover/use, to estimate carbon emissions, discuss influencing factors that determine changing trends in carbon sequestration capacity and to predict the changing law of the carbon sequestration eco-service spatial pattern based on scenario simulations. The results of this study show: (1) In Guang’an, the spatial distribution of the carbon cycle follows a concentric ring pattern. From the concentric ring pattern center, the first annular zone represents the carbon emissions, which lie at the concentric ring center; the second annular zone represents the carbon sequestration service; and the third annular zone represents stable carbon stock; (2) The structure of the concentric ring has not changed, but the spatial distribution of carbon sequestration and carbon density has changed due to fossil energy consumption and land cover/use change. From 2014 to 2016, the carbon emission zone shrunk, while the carbon sequestration service zone expanded and the carbon density increased—the increase of forest land is the main factor in the increase of carbon density; (3) The current carbon sequestration eco-service in Guang’an is not the best development condition. The planning of urban eco-service spatial patterns and land cover/use should consider the protection of cultivated and ecological areas at the same time. The results of this study can help the government implement spatial planning and regional policy interventions for land cover/use and eco-service. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Projecting the CO2 and Climatic Change Effects on the Net Primary Productivity of the Urban Ecosystems in Phoenix, AZ in the 21st Century under Multiple RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) Scenarios
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1366; doi:10.3390/su9081366
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 28 July 2017 / Accepted: 29 July 2017 / Published: 3 August 2017
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Abstract
Urban vegetation provides ecological services that promote both the ecosystem integrity and human well-being of urban areas, and thus is critical to urban sustainability. As a key indicator of ecological health, net primary productivity (NPP) provides valuable information about the performance of urban
[...] Read more.
Urban vegetation provides ecological services that promote both the ecosystem integrity and human well-being of urban areas, and thus is critical to urban sustainability. As a key indicator of ecological health, net primary productivity (NPP) provides valuable information about the performance of urban ecosystem in response to the changes in urban climate and atmosphere in the 21st century. In this study, a process-based urban ecosystem model, HPM-UEM (Hierarchical Patch Mosaic-Urban Ecosystem Model), was used to investigate spatiotemporal dynamics of urban ecosystem NPP in the Phoenix city, AZ under three representative concentration pathway (RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) during the 21st century. The results indicated that, by the end of the 21st century, the urban ecosystem’s NPP would increase by 14% (in RCP2.6), 51% (in RCP4.5) and 99% (in RCP8.5) relative to that in the late 2000s, respectively. Factorial analysis indicated that CO2 fertilization effect would be the major driver of NPP change, accounting for 56–61% of the NPP increase under the scenarios. Under the RCP2.6 scenario, the strongest NPP increase would be found in the agricultural lands located in the west and southeast of the city. Under the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios, the strongest NPP increase would be found in the mesic residential areas that mainly located to the eastern, southern, and southwestern of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. Although higher ecosystem NPP in the future implies improved ecosystem services that may help to alleviate the heat stress (by providing more shading) and air pollution in the city, this will be at the cost of higher irrigation water usage, probably leading to water shortage in the natural ecosystems in this arid region. Furthermore, this study indicated the rich (such as in mesic residential area) would enjoy more benefits from the improved urban ecosystem services than the poor (such as in xeric residential area). Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview A Review of the Economic, Social, and Environmental Impacts of China’s South–North Water Transfer Project: A Sustainability Perspective
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1489; doi:10.3390/su9081489
Received: 29 June 2017 / Revised: 9 August 2017 / Accepted: 14 August 2017 / Published: 22 August 2017
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Abstract
China’s South–North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP) has the potential to transfer as much as 44.8 km3 year−1 of water from the Yangtze River basin to the Yellow River basin. However, the SNWTP has not been assessed from a sustainability perspective. Thus,
[...] Read more.
China’s South–North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP) has the potential to transfer as much as 44.8 km3 year−1 of water from the Yangtze River basin to the Yellow River basin. However, the SNWTP has not been assessed from a sustainability perspective. Thus, in this study we evaluated the SNWTP’s economic, social, and environmental impacts by reviewing the English literature published in journals that are part of the Web of Science database. We then synthesized this literature using a Triple Bottom Line framework of sustainability assessment. Our study has led to three main findings: (1) whether the SNWTP is economically beneficial depends largely on model assumptions, meaning that economic gains at the regional and national level are uncertain; (2) the SNWTP requires the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of people and challenges existing water management institutions, suggesting possible social concerns beyond the short term; and (3) evidently large environmental costs in water-providing areas and uncertain environmental benefits in water-receiving areas together point to an uncertain environmental future for the geographic regions involved. Thus, the overall sustainability of SNWTP is seriously questionable. Although much work has been done studying individual aspects of SNWTP’s sustainability, few studies have utilized the multi-scale, transdisciplinary approaches that such a project demands. To minimize environmental risks, ensure social equity, and sustain economic benefits, we suggest that the project be continuously monitored in all three dimensions, and that integrated sustainability assessments and policy improvements be carried out periodically. Full article
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