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Special Issue "Sustainability Assessment of Land Use and Land Cover"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 December 2017

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Dr. Olena Dubovyk

Center for Remote Sensing of Land Surfaces, University of Bonn, Walter-Flex-Strasse 3, 53113 Bonn, Germany
E-Mail
Phone: +49-228-732092
Interests: monitoring and modelling of land degradation/land surface dynamics; drought monitoring; agricultural mapping and monitoring; time-series analysis; central asia
Guest Editor
Prof. Sven Lautenbach

University of Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 166, 53115 Bonn, Germany
E-Mail
Interests: land use and land use change (modeling) and the interlinkage between land use and ecosystem services
Guest Editor
Dr. Frank Thonfeld

Department of Geography, University of Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 166, 53115 Bonn, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +49-228-734970
Guest Editor
Dr. Andreas Rienow

Department of Geography, University of Bonn, Meckenheimer Allee 166, 53115 Bonn, Germany
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +49-228-739706

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In recent decades, global changes to forests and farmlands, urban areas have been driven by the need to provide food, fiber, water, and shelter to more than 7.5 billion people. These changes are accompanied by large increases in energy, water, and fertilizer consumption, along with considerable loss of biodiversity. We face the challenge of managing trade-offs between immediate human needs and sustainable capacity in land use and land cover (LULC) in order to provide goods and services in the long term. Sustainability assessment of LULC changes addresses environmental, social and economic dimensions of these processes. Sustainability assessment requires an inter-disciplinary approach to assess, analyze and model LULC changes using current advances in land system science, with a special emphasis on modern methodological approaches and models based on Earth Observation (EO) datasets.

In this light, the current Special Issue is focused on a number of topics including: Multi-scale mapping of LULC using EO datasets, LULC change detection to support sustainable land management, monitoring land degradation and desertification, the role of EO to support the sustainable development goals (SDGs), history of LULC, and modelling future LULC patterns. Other covered areas are addressed in several case studies: Climate change impacts on LULC, adaptation of land use to environmental change, assessment and modelling of ecosystem services (e.g., net primary production), and biodiversity. Such case studies may also be analyses of socio-ecological linkages, economic and ecological values, sustainability indicators, human/ecological footprints, and the consequences of land use intensity on the natural condition, diversity, and patterns of landscapes.

Papers selected for this Special Issue are a subject to rigorous peer-review, with the aim of rapid and wide dissemination of research results, new developments and applications.

Dr. Olena Dubovyk
Prof. Sven Lautenbach
Dr. Frank Thonfeld
Dr. Andreas Rienow
Guest Editors

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

  • Land use and land cover change detection to support sustainable land management based on Earth Observation (EO) methods
  • Habitat conservation, preservation, and rehabilitation
  • Sustainable natural resource management
  • Environmental compliance
  • Monitoring of essential biodiversity indicators
  • Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
  • Multi-temporal/ time-series analysis/ multiple datasets
  • Case studies on using EO and GIS to support sustainable use of environmental resources
  • Sustainable indicators
  • Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
  • Land use and land cover modeling

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle Drought Dynamics and Vegetation Productivity in Different Land Management Systems of Eastern Cape, South Africa—A Remote Sensing Perspective
Sustainability 2017, 9(10), 1728; doi:10.3390/su9101728
Received: 30 July 2017 / Revised: 14 September 2017 / Accepted: 18 September 2017 / Published: 26 September 2017
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Abstract
Eastern Cape Province in South Africa has experienced extreme drought events during the last decade. In South Africa, different land management systems exist belonging to two different land tenure classes: commercial large scale farming and communal small-scale subsistence farming. Communal lands are often
[...] Read more.
Eastern Cape Province in South Africa has experienced extreme drought events during the last decade. In South Africa, different land management systems exist belonging to two different land tenure classes: commercial large scale farming and communal small-scale subsistence farming. Communal lands are often reported to be affected by land degradation and drought events among others considered as trigger for this process. Against this background, we analyzed vegetation response to drought in different land management and land tenure systems through assessing vegetation productivity trends and monitoring the intensity, frequency and distribution of the drought hazard in grasslands and communal and commercial croplands during drought and non-drought conditions. For the observation period 2000–2016, we used time series of 250 m Vegetation Condition Index (VCI) based on the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) Enhanced Vegetation Index (EVI) and Climate Hazard Group InfraRed Precipitation with Station data (CHIRPS) precipitation data with 5 km resolution. For the assessment of vegetation dynamics, we: (1) analyzed vegetation productivity in Eastern Cape over the last 16 years with EVI; (2) analyzed the impact of drought events on vegetation productivity in grasslands as well as commercial and communal croplands; and (3) compared precipitation-vegetation dynamics between the drought season 2015/2016 and the non-drought season 2011/2012. Change in total annual vegetation productivity could detect drought years while drought dynamics during the season could be rather monitored by the VCI. Correlation of vegetation condition and precipitation indicated areas experiencing significant vegetation productivity trends showing low and even negative correlation coefficients indicating other drivers for productivity change and drought impact besides rainfall. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Assessment of Land Use and Land Cover)
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Open AccessArticle Sustainability in the Food-Water-Ecosystem Nexus: The Role of Land Use and Land Cover Change for Water Resources and Ecosystems in the Kilombero Wetland, Tanzania
Sustainability 2017, 9(9), 1513; doi:10.3390/su9091513
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 14 August 2017 / Accepted: 14 August 2017 / Published: 24 August 2017
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Abstract
Land Use Land Cover Change (LULCC) has a significant impact on water resources and ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). On the basis of three research projects we aim to describe and discuss the potential, uncertainties, synergies and science-policy interfaces of satellite-based integrated
[...] Read more.
Land Use Land Cover Change (LULCC) has a significant impact on water resources and ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). On the basis of three research projects we aim to describe and discuss the potential, uncertainties, synergies and science-policy interfaces of satellite-based integrated research for the Kilombero catchment, comprising one of the major agricultural utilized floodplains in Tanzania. LULCC was quantified at the floodplain and catchment scale analyzing Landsat 5 and Sentinel 2 satellite imagery applying different adapted classification methodologies. LULC maps at the catchment scale serve as spatial input for the distributed, process-based ecohydrological model SWAT (Soil Water Assessment Tool) simulating the changes in the spatial and temporal water balance in runoff components caused by LULCC. The results reveal that over the past 26 years LULCC has significantly altered the floodplain and already shows an impact on the ecosystem by degrading the existing wildlife corridors. On the catchment scale the anomalies of the water balance are still marginal, but with the expected structural changes of the catchment there is an urgent need to increase the public awareness and knowledge of decision makers regarding the effect of the relationship between LULCC, water resources and environmental degradation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Assessment of Land Use and Land Cover)
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Open AccessArticle Impact of Deforestation on Agro-Environmental Variables in Cropland, North Korea
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1354; doi:10.3390/su9081354
Received: 17 May 2017 / Revised: 26 July 2017 / Accepted: 28 July 2017 / Published: 1 August 2017
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Abstract
Deforestation in North Korea is becoming the epitome of the environmental change occurring in the Korean Peninsula. This study estimates the agro-environmental variables of North Korea’s croplands and analyzes the impact of deforestation using the GEPIC (GIS-based EPIC (Environmental Policy Integrated Climate)) model
[...] Read more.
Deforestation in North Korea is becoming the epitome of the environmental change occurring in the Korean Peninsula. This study estimates the agro-environmental variables of North Korea’s croplands and analyzes the impact of deforestation using the GEPIC (GIS-based EPIC (Environmental Policy Integrated Climate)) model and time-series land cover maps. To identify the changes in agricultural quality under deforestation, wind erosion, water erosion, organic carbon loss, and runoff were selected as the agro-environmental variables having an impact on cropland stability and productivity. Land cover maps spanning the past three decades showed that 75% of the forests were converted to croplands and that 69% of all converted croplands were originally forests, confirming the significant correlation between deforestation and cropland expansion in North Korea. Despite limitations in the verification data, we conducted qualitative and quantitative validation of the estimated variables and confirmed that our results were reasonable. Over the past 30 years, agro-environmental variables showed no clear time-series changes resulting from climate change, but changes due to spatial differences were seen. Negative changes in organic carbon loss, water erosion, and runoff were observed, regardless of the crop type. On newly-converted agricultural lands, runoff is 1.5 times higher and water-driven erosion and soil organic loss are more than twice as high compared to older croplands. The results showed that the agro-environment affected by deforestation had an impact on cropland stability and productivity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Assessment of Land Use and Land Cover)
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Open AccessArticle Scenario-Based Simulation on Dynamics of Land-Use-Land-Cover Change in Punjab Province, Pakistan
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1285; doi:10.3390/su9081285
Received: 8 June 2017 / Revised: 14 July 2017 / Accepted: 17 July 2017 / Published: 27 July 2017
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Abstract
The dramatic changes in land use are associated with various influencing factors such as socioeconomic, climatic, geophysical and proximity factors. Hence, understanding the driving mechanisms of land use changes is crucial to determine the pattern of future changes in land use. The aim
[...] Read more.
The dramatic changes in land use are associated with various influencing factors such as socioeconomic, climatic, geophysical and proximity factors. Hence, understanding the driving mechanisms of land use changes is crucial to determine the pattern of future changes in land use. The aim of this study is to project the future land use and land cover changes from 2010 to 2030 in Punjab province under three scenarios: Business-as-Usual scenario (BAU), Rapid Economic Growth scenario (REG) and Coordinated Environmental Sustainability scenario (CES). This article used the previously developed Dynamics of Land System (DLS) model to simulate the land use changes in response to the driving mechanisms. The results indicate that cultivated land and built-up areas would expand while areas of water and grassland would face contraction under all three scenarios. Nevertheless, future land demand varies in different scenarios. Under the CES scenario; forest area would expand in the future while large reduction in unused land would be observed. Under the REG scenario, augmented expansion of built-up areas and drastic decrease in forest areas would be the main features of land use changes. Our findings in the scenario analysis of land use changes can provide a reference case for sustainable land use planning and management in Punjab province. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Assessment of Land Use and Land Cover)
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Open AccessArticle Metrics of Urban Sustainability: A Case Study of Changing Downtowns in Thunder Bay, Canada
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1272; doi:10.3390/su9071272
Received: 18 April 2017 / Revised: 10 July 2017 / Accepted: 11 July 2017 / Published: 19 July 2017
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Abstract
Thunder Bay, a medium-sized city in Northern Ontario, has a twin downtown core model, arising from the merging of two former cities in 1970. Its north core, designated as the City’s Entertainment District has received considerable investment, notably a major waterfront renewal project
[...] Read more.
Thunder Bay, a medium-sized city in Northern Ontario, has a twin downtown core model, arising from the merging of two former cities in 1970. Its north core, designated as the City’s Entertainment District has received considerable investment, notably a major waterfront renewal project undertaken in 2009 as part of an overall strategy towards downtown revitalization. Greater diversity of commercial functions and increasing residential capacity in downtowns are considered positive steps towards sustainable urban development. It is hoped the leadership taken by the City in its downtown capital investments can stimulate others (corporations and individuals) to re-invest in both living and working in more central locations to the benefit of environmental sustainability indicators like journey-to-work (distance and mode selected) and residential density. This article tracks changes in business composition and residential capacity during a five year period via the development of an intensive database of business and institutional activities. Urban sustainability metrics developed include residential capacity and density, business vacancy rates and business composition and turnover, which complement an existing measure of land-use diversity developed in earlier research. While major capital investments in downtown revitalization (such as the waterfront project) have fairly long-term impact horizons, data suggest some positive trends in the developed metrics in the downtown north core since 2009. In particular, there have been notable investments in waterfront condos and downtown lofts and some diversification in the food retailing and restaurant sectors. However, overall trends in downtown commerce are currently flat, indicative of a struggling local economy and a continued suburbanization of key commercial sectors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability Assessment of Land Use and Land Cover)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Metrics of urban sustainability: a case study of changing downtowns in Thunder Bay, Canada
Authors: Todd Randall, Trevor Kavalchuk and Reg Nelson
Affiliation: Department of Geography and the Environment, Lakehead University, 955 Oliver Road, Thunder Bay, ON, P7B 5E1, Canada
Abstract: Thunder Bay has a twin downtown core model, arising from the merger of two former cities in 1970. Its north core has been designated as the City’s Entertainment District and has received considerable investment, notably a major waterfront renewal project undertaken in 2009 as part of an overall strategy towards downtown revitalization. Its south core has become the City’s government hub housing key municipal governance functions of the amalgamated city, including City Hall and a newly completed (2014) consolidated Provincial courthouse. Greater diversity of commercial functions and increasing residential capacity in downtowns are considered positive steps in a more sustainable urban community. It is hoped the leadership taken by the City in these two major capital investments in its two downtowns can provide the stimulus for others (corporations and individuals) to re-invest in both living and working in more central locations to the benefit of environmental sustainability indicators like journey-to-work (distance and mode selected) and residential density. This paper tracks changes in functional land-use and residential capacity via the development of an intensive database of business and institutional activities in the downtowns between 2010 and 2016. Urban sustainability metrics developed include: residential building stock, vacancy rates, and business turnover rates, and will complement an existing measure of land-use diversity developed in earlier research. While these major capital investments have fairly long-term impact horizons, data suggest there has been a diversification of both business enterprises and residential housing component in the downtowns since 2009. In particular, there have been notable investments in waterfront condos and downtown lofts and positive trends towards diversification in the food retailing and restaurant sectors. However, overall trends in downtown commerce are currently flat, indicative of a struggling local economy and continued suburbanization of key commercial sectors, like banking and insurance, away from the downtown areas. This project is part of a continuing and long-term study of Thunder Bay’s changing urban landscapes.
Keywords: land-use change detection; urban sustainability metrics; land-use diversity; downtown revitalization; Geographic Information System; Central Business District

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