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Special Issue "Regional Sustainability Research Network: Selected Papers from the Expert Group Meeting on Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals with Water–Food–Ecosystem Resilience in the Mid-Latitude Region"

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: closed (30 April 2017)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Woo-Kyun Lee

Korea University
Website | E-Mail
Interests: forest growth, forest planning, climate change impact assessment, climate change adaptation, GIS/RS
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Menas C. Kafatos

Chapman University, Korea University, National Observatory of Athens, Greece
Website | E-Mail
Interests: climate change impacts on agriculture in semi-arid MLR (Mid-Latitude Region), wildland fires in MLR, droughts in MLR, climate change adaptation, urban ecological vulnerability, modeling and RS observations, advance signatures of earthquakes, conscious living and resilience in a changing environment
Guest Editor
Dr. Florian Kraxner

Ecosystems Services and Management Program, International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
Website | E-Mail
Interests: socioeconomics and policies of the LULUCF sector, forest-based bioenergy, renewable energy systems optimization, ecosystems services integration, negative emissions by linking bioenergy with carbon capture and storage (BECCS)
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Kanaris Tsinganos

University of Athens, National Observatory of Athens, Greece
Website | E-Mail
Interests: space physics, space applications, data compression for space missions, earth observation, urban heat islands, smart cities and resilient societies, climate change adaptation, precursor seismic effects

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The Mid-Latitude Region (MLR), broadly defined as the region between 30 and 60 degrees latitude, is important for many reasons. It involves the global carbon budget, climate change adaptation/mitigation, and sustainable development in terms of food, water, and ecosystems. It includes other unique characteristics: It is a large region extending over the entire earth, spanning all longitudes. The latitude range includes regions of various climates, such as temperate and alpine climate, diverse land cover types (such as deserts, semi-arid regions, Mediterranean climate, large forested areas, coastal regions, agricultural regions, etc.) as well as urban cities and most megacities of the world.
Roughly half of the population of the earth lives in the MLR, with combined GDP of more than 75% of the global value. Despite the socio-economic and cultural diversity, this region shares some common elements and often similar climate characteristics. Due to the continuous population growth and mobility, rapid urbanization, economic development and climate change, countries in the MLR are facing increased stresses for water and food as well as land degradation and desertification. These common challenges can be effectively addressed in water–food–ecosystem resilience. Studying the MLR allows inter-comparisons and common studies linking different regions on the one hand, and similar regions, on the other hand. Furthermore, resilience is especially challenged by low precipitation, low cropland density and fertility (food security) and geopolitical conflicts.
Overall, the MLR covers a large population, high poverty incidences, rich biodiversity which is degrading at a fast rate to reduce the ecosystem resilience. Ecosystem resilience in this region is a critical pre-requisite for sustaining water, food, ecosystem and human wellbeing. Resource allocation must be prioritized for quick understanding of emerging environmental and social developmental issues in the MLR to guide adaptation and mitigation strategies.
The Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on water–food–ecosystem resilience was hosted by UNOSD (United Nations Office for Sustainable Development) in collaboration with the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) Korea, the Korean Ministry of Environment and of O-Jeong Eco-Resilience Institute (OJERI) at Korea University in November 2016. This EGM was designed to promote water–food–ecosystem resilience in the mid-latitude region by providing a platform for experts to share their knowledge and experience and to enhance cooperation which potentially establishes a long-term partnership within the research-policy interface for water–food–ecosystem resilience. Participating experts shared their experiences of how to tackle challenging areas in their national and sub-regional context. This Special Issue comprises selected papers from the meeting, sharing presentations and discussions in the meeting, and we propose further common activities of the Mid-Latitude Research Network (MLRN).

Prof. Dr. Woo-Kyun, Lee
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

  • Sustainable development
  • Water–Food–Ecosystem Nexus
  • Mid-Latitude Region (MLR)
  • Mid-Latitude Research Network (MLRN)
  • Latitudinal approach
  • Ecosystem resilience
  • Common approaches and challenges

Published Papers (7 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Responses of Agroecosystems to Climate Change: Specifics of Resilience in the Mid-Latitude Region
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1361; doi:10.3390/su9081361
Received: 30 April 2017 / Revised: 17 July 2017 / Accepted: 28 July 2017 / Published: 2 August 2017
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Abstract
This study examines the productivity and resilience of agroecosystems in the Korean Peninsula. Having learned valuable lessons from a Chapman University project funded by the United States Department of Agriculture which concentrated on the semi-arid region of southwestern United States, our joint Korea—Chapman
[...] Read more.
This study examines the productivity and resilience of agroecosystems in the Korean Peninsula. Having learned valuable lessons from a Chapman University project funded by the United States Department of Agriculture which concentrated on the semi-arid region of southwestern United States, our joint Korea—Chapman University team has applied similar methodologies to the Korean Peninsula, which is itself an interesting study case in the mid-latitude region. In particular, the Korean Peninsula has unique agricultural environments due to differences in political and socioeconomic systems between South Korea and North Korea. Specifically, North Korea has been suffering from food shortages due to natural disasters, land degradation and political failure. The neighboring developed country, South Korea, has a better agricultural system but a low food self-sufficiency rate. Therefore, assessing crop yield potential (Yp) in the two distinct regions will reveal vulnerability and risks of agroecosystems in the mid-latitude region under climate change and variability and for different conditions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Parameter Estimation of the Farquhar—von Caemmerer—Berry Biochemical Model from Photosynthetic Carbon Dioxide Response Curves
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1288; doi:10.3390/su9071288
Received: 26 April 2017 / Revised: 15 July 2017 / Accepted: 19 July 2017 / Published: 24 July 2017
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Abstract
The Farquhar—von Caemmerer—Berry (FvCB) biochemical model of photosynthesis, commonly used to estimate CO2 assimilation at various spatial scales from leaf to global, has been used to assess the impacts of climate change on crop and ecosystem productivities. However, it is widely known
[...] Read more.
The Farquhar—von Caemmerer—Berry (FvCB) biochemical model of photosynthesis, commonly used to estimate CO2 assimilation at various spatial scales from leaf to global, has been used to assess the impacts of climate change on crop and ecosystem productivities. However, it is widely known that the parameters in the FvCB model are difficult to accurately estimate. The objective of this study was to assess the methods of Sharkey et al. and Gu et al., which are often used to estimate the parameters of the FvCB model. We generated An/Ci datasets with different data accuracies, numbers of data points, and data point distributions. The results showed that neither method accurately estimated the parameters; however, Gu et al.’s approach provided slightly better estimates. Using Gu et al.’s approach and datasets with measurement errors and the same accuracy as a typical open gas exchange system (i.e., Li-6400), the majority of the estimated parameters—Vcmax (maximal Rubisco carboxylation rate), Kco (effective Michaelis-Menten coefficient for CO2), gm (internal (mesophyll) conductance to CO2 transport) and Γ* (chloroplastic CO2 photocompensation point)—were underestimated, while the majority of Rd (day respiration) and α (the non-returned fraction of the glycolate carbon recycled in the photorespiratory cycle) were overestimated. The distributions of Tp (the rate of triose phosphate export from the chloroplast) were evenly dispersed around the 1:1 line using both approaches. This study revealed that a high accuracy of leaf gas exchange measurements and sufficient data points are required to correctly estimate the parameters for the biochemical model. The accurate estimation of these parameters can contribute to the enhancement of food security under climate change through accurate predictions of crop and ecosystem productivities. A further study is recommended to address the question of how the measurement accuracies can be improved. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Vulnerability of Ukrainian Forests to Climate Change
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1152; doi:10.3390/su9071152
Received: 8 May 2017 / Revised: 12 June 2017 / Accepted: 27 June 2017 / Published: 30 June 2017
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Abstract
Ukraine is a country of the Mid-Latitude ecotone—a transition zone between forest zone and forestless dry lands. Availability of water defines distribution of the country’s forests and decreases their productivity towards the south. Climate change generates a particular threat for Ukrainian forests and
[...] Read more.
Ukraine is a country of the Mid-Latitude ecotone—a transition zone between forest zone and forestless dry lands. Availability of water defines distribution of the country’s forests and decreases their productivity towards the south. Climate change generates a particular threat for Ukrainian forests and stability of agroforestry landscapes. This paper considers the impacts of expected climate change on vulnerability of Ukrainian forests using ensembles of global and regional climatic models (RCM) based on Scenarios B1, A2, A1B of the Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change, and a “dry and warm” scenario A1B+T−P (increasing temperature and decreasing precipitation). The spatially explicit assessment was provided by RCM for the WMO standard period (1961–1990), “recent” (1991–2010) and three future periods: 2011–2030, 2031–2050 and 2081–2100. Forest-climate model by Vorobjov and model of amplitude of flora’s tolerance to climate change by Didukh, as well as a number of specialized climatic indicators, were used in the assessment. Different approaches lead to rather consistent conclusions. Water stress is the major limitation factor of distribution and resilience of flatland Ukrainian forests. Within Scenario A1B, the area with unsuitable growth conditions for major forest forming species will substantially increase by end of the century occupying major part of Ukraine. Scenario A1B+T−P projects even a more dramatic decline of the country’s forests. It is expected that the boundary of conditions that are favorable for forests will shift to north and northwest, and forests of the xeric belt will be the most vulnerable. Consistent policies of adaptation and mitigation might reduce climate-induced risks for Ukrainian forests. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Bioclimatic Classification of Northeast Asia Reflecting Social Factors: Development and Characterization
Sustainability 2017, 9(7), 1137; doi:10.3390/su9071137
Received: 30 April 2017 / Revised: 13 June 2017 / Accepted: 21 June 2017 / Published: 28 June 2017
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Abstract
Biodiversity is rapidly declining globally and efforts are needed to mitigate this continually increasing loss of species. Clustering of areas with similar habitats can be used to prioritize protected areas and distribute resources for the conservation of species, selection of representative sample areas
[...] Read more.
Biodiversity is rapidly declining globally and efforts are needed to mitigate this continually increasing loss of species. Clustering of areas with similar habitats can be used to prioritize protected areas and distribute resources for the conservation of species, selection of representative sample areas for research, and evaluation of impacts due to environmental changes. In this study, Northeast Asia (NEA) was classified into 27 bioclimatic zones using statistical techniques, and it was re-clustered into 14 groups to identify the environmental characteristics of these zones. In particular, we added land cover variables into the clustering to reflect not only simple climate but also social factors influencing biological habitats. In total, 53 bioclimatic variables were constructed, and principal components were generated using correlation analysis and principal component analysis (PCA). The iterative self-organizing data analysis technique algorithm (ISODATA) was used to cluster the principal components and land cover variable. The constructed bioclimatic zones were assigned codes and descriptive names based on aridity, seasonality, and naturality, and their environmental characteristics were identified. This study is significant in that it improved the understanding of biological habitats of NEA and established a basis for monitoring the distribution of species and for efficient and systematic management of biodiversity. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Effect of National-Scale Afforestation on Forest Water Supply and Soil Loss in South Korea, 1971–2010
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 1017; doi:10.3390/su9061017
Received: 29 April 2017 / Revised: 6 June 2017 / Accepted: 8 June 2017 / Published: 13 June 2017
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Abstract
Afforestation of forests in South Korea may provide an example of the benefit of afforestation on precipitation storage and erosion control. In this study, we presented the effects of afforestation on water supply and soil loss prevention. A spatio-temporal simulation of forest water
[...] Read more.
Afforestation of forests in South Korea may provide an example of the benefit of afforestation on precipitation storage and erosion control. In this study, we presented the effects of afforestation on water supply and soil loss prevention. A spatio-temporal simulation of forest water yield and soil loss was performed from 1971–2010 using InVEST water yield and SWAT models. A forest stock change map was produced by combining land cover data and National Forest Inventory data. The forest water yield increased about twice with changes in forest stock and climate from 1971–2010 and showed a spatially homogeneous water supply capacity. In the same period, the soil loss decreased more than three times, and the volatility of soil loss, in the 2010s, was smaller than before. The analysis of the change in forest stock without considering climate change showed an increase of 43% in forest water yield and a decrease of 87% in soil loss. An increase in precipitation increased the water yield, but also increased the soil loss volume. A change in forest stock led to positive changes in both. This study presents functional positive effects of the afforestation program in South Korea that can be useful in various afforestation programs in other countries. Full article
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Open AccessConcept Paper Classification of Global Land Development Phases by Forest and GDP Changes for Appropriate Land Management in the Mid-Latitude
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1342; doi:10.3390/su9081342
Received: 14 June 2017 / Revised: 20 July 2017 / Accepted: 27 July 2017 / Published: 1 August 2017
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Abstract
To implement appropriate land management strategies, it is essential to identify past and current land cover and land use conditions. In addition, an assessment of land development phases (LDPs) in a human-dominated landscape coupled with an analysis of the water-food-ecosystem (WFE) nexus can
[...] Read more.
To implement appropriate land management strategies, it is essential to identify past and current land cover and land use conditions. In addition, an assessment of land development phases (LDPs) in a human-dominated landscape coupled with an analysis of the water-food-ecosystem (WFE) nexus can deepen our understanding of sustainable land management. In this study, we proposed the concept of land development phases (LDPs) by forest and GDP changes using previously-applied theoretical and empirical approaches. The positive relationship between GDP growth and forest stock changes was used to analyze the timing of forest stock changes as five-year averages, which were aggregated over 20 years to classify LDPs. In addition, forest area changes compared with GDP and GDP per capita changes were analyzed to identify LDPs. Based on two conceptual approaches, we suggested global land into three LDPs: degradation, restoration and sustainability. Using this approach, most of Europe, North America and northeast Asia were classified as sustainability phases, while Africa and Central Asia in the Mid-Latitude region appeared to have degradation or restoration phases. The LDPs described could be improved with further incorporation of solid data analysis and clear standards, but even at this stage, these LDP classifications suggest points for implementing appropriate land management. In addition, indices from comparative analysis of the LDPs with the WFE nexus can be connected with socio-economic global indices, such as the Global Hunger Index, the Food Production Index and the Climate Change Performance Index. The LDPs have the potential to facilitate appropriate land management strategies through integrating WFE nexus and ecosystem services; we propose future research that uses this integration for the Mid-Latitude region and worldwide. Full article
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Open AccessProject Report ERA-PLANET, a European Network for Observing Our Changing Planet
Sustainability 2017, 9(6), 1040; doi:10.3390/su9061040
Received: 29 April 2017 / Revised: 29 April 2017 / Accepted: 6 June 2017 / Published: 16 June 2017
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Abstract
ERA-PLANET is a wide European network comprised of 118 researchers from 35 partner institutions located in 18 countries, aiming to strengthen the European Research Area in the domain of Earth Observation (EO) in coherence with the European participation to the Group on Earth
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ERA-PLANET is a wide European network comprised of 118 researchers from 35 partner institutions located in 18 countries, aiming to strengthen the European Research Area in the domain of Earth Observation (EO) in coherence with the European participation to the Group on Earth Observation (GEO) and the program for the establishment of a European capacity for Earth Observation, COPERNICUS. It will provide more accurate, comprehensive, and authoritative information to policy and decision-makers in key societal benefit areas (SBAs), under the umbrellas of dedicated projects in the topics of: smart cities and resilient societies; resource efficiency and environmental management; global changes and environmental treaties; polar areas and natural resources. ERA-PLANET will provide advanced decision support tools and technologies aimed to better monitor our global environment and share the information and knowledge in different domains of EO by launching joint transnational calls along the above four strands. The concept of the project that tackles with strand 1, as well as an example of a specific application fitting in, are described, aspiring to promote and coordinate the “smart-city” approach into a European network of cities and non-European follower cities, serving the need for a common approach to enhance environmental and societal resilience to air pollution, urban growth, and urban heat islands, as well as other natural/manmade stresses and relevant impacts. This is achieved through the synergy among technology, government, and society, while at the same time creating bridges between local/national initiatives with GEO/GEOSS, COPERNICUS, and other smart cities and GEO relevant projects. The project addresses initiatives in European cities but also specific issues dealing with air quality management in other parts of the world. Finally, it places major emphasis on fully exploiting key-enabling technologies and firmly addressing interoperability issues, in the context of big “smart city” data, and open science. Full article
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