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Article

Using the Ecosystem Services Concept to Assess Transformation of Agricultural Landscapes in the European Alps

1
Department of Ecology, University of Innsbruck, 6020 Innsbruck, Austria
2
Institute for Alpine Environment, Eurac Research, 39100 Bolzano, Italy
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Monika Kopecká
Land 2022, 11(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11010049
Received: 17 November 2021 / Revised: 16 December 2021 / Accepted: 28 December 2021 / Published: 30 December 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
Mountain farming sustains human well-being by providing various ecosystem services (ES). In the last decades, socio-economic developments have led to worldwide changes in land-use/cover (LULC), but the related effects on ES have not been fully explored. This study aimed at assessing the impacts of the transformation of agricultural land on ES in the European Alps. We mapped 19 ES within the agriculturally used areas in the year 2000 and analyzed LULC changes by 2018. We compared eight regions with a similar development, regarding social–ecological characteristics, to outline contrasting trends. Our results indicate that the ES decreased most strongly in regions with a massive abandonment of mountain grassland, while ES in the ‘traditional agricultural region’ remained the most stable. In regions with an intensification of agriculture, together with urban sprawl, ES had the lowest values. Across all regions, a shift from ES that are typically associated with mountain farming towards forest-related ES occurred, due to forest regrowth. By relating differing trends in ES to social–ecological developments, we can discuss our findings regarding new landscapes and farming systems across the European Alps. Our quantitative and spatially explicit findings provide a valuable basis for policy development, from the regional to the international/EU level, and for adopting sustainable management strategies. View Full-Text
Keywords: social–ecological system; mountain region; spatial analysis; land-use change; farming social–ecological system; mountain region; spatial analysis; land-use change; farming
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MDPI and ACS Style

Schirpke, U.; Tasser, E.; Leitinger, G.; Tappeiner, U. Using the Ecosystem Services Concept to Assess Transformation of Agricultural Landscapes in the European Alps. Land 2022, 11, 49. https://doi.org/10.3390/land11010049

AMA Style

Schirpke U, Tasser E, Leitinger G, Tappeiner U. Using the Ecosystem Services Concept to Assess Transformation of Agricultural Landscapes in the European Alps. Land. 2022; 11(1):49. https://doi.org/10.3390/land11010049

Chicago/Turabian Style

Schirpke, Uta, Erich Tasser, Georg Leitinger, and Ulrike Tappeiner. 2022. "Using the Ecosystem Services Concept to Assess Transformation of Agricultural Landscapes in the European Alps" Land 11, no. 1: 49. https://doi.org/10.3390/land11010049

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