Studies of land use/cover change (LUCC) and its impact on ecosystem service (ES) in monetary units can provide information that governments can use to identify where protection and restoration is economically most important. Translating ES in monetary units into decision making strongly depends on the availability of spatially explicit information on LUCC and ES. Yet such datasets are unavailable for the Three Gorges Reservoir Area (TGRA) despite its perceived soil conservation service value (SCSV). The availability of remote sensing-based datasets and advanced GIS techniques has enhanced the potential of spatially explicit ES mapping exercises. Here, we first explored LUCC in the TGRA for four time periods (1995–2000, 2000–2005, 2005–2010, and 2010–2015). Then, applying a value transfer method with an equivalent value factor spatialized using the normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), we estimated the changes of monetary SCSV in response to LUCC in a spatially explicit way. Finally, the sensitivity of SCSV changes in response to LUCC was determined. Major findings: (i) Expansion of construction land and water bodies and contraction of cropland characterized the LUCC in all periods. Their driving factors include the relocation of residents, construction of the Three Gorges Dam, urbanization, and the Grain for Green Program; (ii) The SCSV for TGRA was generally stable for 1995–2015, declining slightly (<1%), suggesting a sustainable human–environment relationship in the TGRA. The SCSV prevails in regions with elevations (slopes) of 400–1600 m (0°–10°); for Chongqing and its surrounding regions it decreased significantly during 1995–2015; (iii) SCSV’s sensitivity index was 1.04, 0.53, 0.92, and 1.25 in the four periods, respectively, which is generally low. Chongqing and its surrounding regions, with their pervasive urbanization and dense populations, had the highest sensitivity. For 1995–2015, 70.63% of the study area underwent increases in this sensitivity index. Our results provide crucial information for policymaking concerning ecological conservation and compensation.
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