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Earth, Volume 2, Issue 4 (December 2021) – 9 articles

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Article
Green System Development in the Medinas of Tunis and Marrakesh—Green Heritage and Urban Livability
Earth 2021, 2(4), 809-825; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2040048 - 22 Oct 2021
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Abstract
Due to their authentic urban and architectural character, the Medinas of Tunis and Marrakesh became listed among the United Nations educational, scientific, and cultural organization (UNESCO) heritage sites in 1979 and 1985, respectively. Nowadays, the urbanization of the surrounding green areas and the [...] Read more.
Due to their authentic urban and architectural character, the Medinas of Tunis and Marrakesh became listed among the United Nations educational, scientific, and cultural organization (UNESCO) heritage sites in 1979 and 1985, respectively. Nowadays, the urbanization of the surrounding green areas and the climate change impacts on cities are degrading the Medinas’ livability and their characteristic heritage. On the other hand, scientific knowledge and data about the green system in the dense urban cores of Medinas in the Maghreb region is still not a widely apprehended theme in the scientific domain. This research objective is to initiate nature-based and sustainable solutions in these cities by demonstrating the application of the urban green infrastructure (UGI) approach. As a research methodology, an analysis of the historical green system development in the Medinas is given to highlight their tangible and intangible values. The analysis goes over three periods: first, the medieval Islamic era, then the modern period during the French colony, and the contemporary city as a unique urban landscape. Finally, the study proposes a design guideline to prove the applicability of the UGI in the given historical morphologies by implementing the retained historical values of the historic green heritage in Medinas and the aspects of the site. Full article
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Article
Feeding the New Zealand Family of Five Million, 5+ a Day of Vegetables?
Earth 2021, 2(4), 797-808; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2040047 - 21 Oct 2021
Viewed by 239
Abstract
New Zealand (NZ), a food-producing, geographically isolated nation has set a domestic dietary guideline of 5 servings a day/person of vegetables. The question “does New Zealand produce enough servings and diversity of vegetables to meet dietary recommendations of 5 diverse servings/day?” was explored. [...] Read more.
New Zealand (NZ), a food-producing, geographically isolated nation has set a domestic dietary guideline of 5 servings a day/person of vegetables. The question “does New Zealand produce enough servings and diversity of vegetables to meet dietary recommendations of 5 diverse servings/day?” was explored. Publicly available data for weight of vegetables produced and hectares of land used in relation to five vegetable diversity groups of white roots-and-tubers, vitamin-A-vegetables, other vegetables, dark-green-leafy vegetables, and legumes were examined. Overall, the equivalent of 11.7 servings of vegetables/day/NZperson was produced. Potatoes, onions, carrots, and squash were produced in the largest quantities (total 7.7 servings/day/NZperson) but most onions, squash, and some potatoes were exported (2.5 servings/day/NZperson). There was inadequate production of legumes, 0.6 servings/day/NZ person (peas and beans) and dark-green-leafy vegetables, 0.03 servings/day/NZ person (silverbeet and spinach). Only 0.2% of the total land area of NZ is used for growing vegetables. Expansion of the area used for vegetables should be considered in the context of sustainable production and irreversible pressures confronting the unique land and soils the land use requires, as well as current environmental impacts of intensive conventional outdoor vegetable production. An environmentally sustainable and diverse supply of vegetables for domestic use needs to be strategically and actively protected. Full article
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Article
The Interplay of Likeability and Fear in Willingness to Pay for Bat Conservation
Earth 2021, 2(4), 781-796; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2040046 - 21 Oct 2021
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Abstract
Bats populations and their habitats are currently threatened globally, but particular declines have been seen across Europe. The contingent valuation method is commonly used to assign an economic value to species conservation through a willingness to pay (WTP) surveys. We carried out face-to-face [...] Read more.
Bats populations and their habitats are currently threatened globally, but particular declines have been seen across Europe. The contingent valuation method is commonly used to assign an economic value to species conservation through a willingness to pay (WTP) surveys. We carried out face-to-face interviews of a representative to the Greek population sample (n = 1131) and used a multiple-bounded discrete choice approach to estimate WTP for bat conservation. More than half of the Greek population was supportive of bat conservation (54.6%). Mean WTP was estimated at €21.71, and the total amount that could be collected was €105.6 million, after considering the number of taxpayers and the proportion of supportive people. There was an interplay between emotions, with likeability being the most important positive predictor of support, and fear the most important negative predictor of WTP for bat conservation. Among sociodemographics, older participants, with higher education, farmers, and pet owners showed the highest support, while those with higher education, farmers, and consumptive recreationists offered the highest bid for bat conservation. Participants drew information about bats mostly from informal sources, such as friends, movies, novels, and comics. Our study allowed for the estimation of public support and necessary funds for bat conservation, which are valuable for successful conservation management. Findings will also be critical for the design and implementation of effective education and outreach programs, aimed at increasing knowledge about bats and ultimately support for bat conservation actions. Full article
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Article
Evaluating Soil Carbon as a Proxy for Erosion Risk in the Spatio-Temporal Complex Hydropower Catchment in Upper Pangani, Northern Tanzania
Earth 2021, 2(4), 764-780; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2040045 - 15 Oct 2021
Viewed by 62
Abstract
Land use conversion is generally accompanied by large changes in soil organic carbon (SOC). SOC influences soil erodibility through its broad control on aggregate stability, soil structure and infiltration capacity. However, soil erodibility is also influenced by soil properties, clay mineralogy and other [...] Read more.
Land use conversion is generally accompanied by large changes in soil organic carbon (SOC). SOC influences soil erodibility through its broad control on aggregate stability, soil structure and infiltration capacity. However, soil erodibility is also influenced by soil properties, clay mineralogy and other human activities. This study aimed to evaluate soil organic carbon as proxy of soil erosion risk in the Nyumba ya Mungu (NYM) catchment in Northern Tanzania. Soil organic carbon (SOC) was measured by an AgroCares scanner from which the soil organic matter (SOM) was derived using the conversional van Bemmelen factor of 1.72. A regression analysis performed between the measured loss on ignition (LOI) values and SOM from the AgroScanner showed a strong positive correlation in all land use classes (LOIFL R2 = 0.85, r = 0.93, p < 0.0001; LOICL R2 = 0.86, r = 0.93, p = 0.0001; LOIGL R2 = 0.68, r = 0.83, p = 0.003; LOIBS R2 = 0.88, r = 0.94, p = 0.0001; LOIBL R2 = 0.83, r = 0.91, p = 0.0002). This indicates that SOC from the soil scanner provided a good representation of the actual SOM present in soils. The study also revealed significant differences in the soil aggregate stability (WSA) and SOM stock between the different land use types in the Upper Pangani Basin. The WSA decreases approximately in the following order: grassland > forest land > bare land > cultivated > bush land. Land use change can thus potentially increase the susceptibility of soil to erosion risk when SOC is reduced. Since WSA was directly related to SOM, the study indicates that, where formal measurements are limited, this simple and inexpensive aggregate stability test can be used by farmers to monitor changes in their soils after management changes and to tentatively assess SOC and soil health. Full article
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Article
Role of Agricultural Terraces in Flood and Soil Erosion Risks Control in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco
Earth 2021, 2(4), 746-763; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2040044 - 11 Oct 2021
Viewed by 238
Abstract
Terraced farming play several roles, from improving ecosystem services to enhancing associated population livelihoods. In this study, we were interested in evaluating the roles of mountain terraces in controlling floods and erosion risks, in particular in the Ourika watershed, located in the High [...] Read more.
Terraced farming play several roles, from improving ecosystem services to enhancing associated population livelihoods. In this study, we were interested in evaluating the roles of mountain terraces in controlling floods and erosion risks, in particular in the Ourika watershed, located in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. Rainfall simulation tests were conducted to measure infiltration, runoff and initial abstraction, while the Cesium-137 isotope technique was used to quantify soil loss. The results highlighted high infiltration for dense forests (78.00 ± 2.65 mm/h) and low for rangelands (27.12 ± 2.82 mm/h). For terraces, infiltration was found to be about 70.36 ± 0.56 mm/h, confirming the role of terraces in promoting infiltration. The runoff coefficient obtained was lowest for dense forests, followed by cultivated terraces, and highest for rangelands (62.71 ± 3.51). Thus, outside dense forests, infiltration and runoff were significantly very high and low, respectively, for agricultural terraces compared to other land use. The assessment of soil erosion rates showed a significant soil loss for rangelands compared to the agricultural terraces, further underlining the role of terraces in soil conservation. Terraces in the Ourika watershed, by increasing water infiltration, reduce the rate of surface runoff, and consequently, flood risks and soil degradation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Terraced Landscapes as Models of Ecological Sustainability)
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Article
A Review of Transport Policies in Support of Climate Actions in Asian Cities and Countries
Earth 2021, 2(4), 731-745; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2040043 - 10 Oct 2021
Viewed by 309
Abstract
Asia is one of the continents that is the most affected by the impacts of climate change. Asian countries need to take climate actions and mitigate emissions from the urban passenger transport sector. Despite some progress in improving urban mobility in Asian cities, [...] Read more.
Asia is one of the continents that is the most affected by the impacts of climate change. Asian countries need to take climate actions and mitigate emissions from the urban passenger transport sector. Despite some progress in improving urban mobility in Asian cities, greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector continue to rise. Policy makers who are responsible for managing mobilities must play a major role in decarbonizing the transport sector. In this context, this paper reviews the efforts of selected Asian countries and cities towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the urban transport sector. It will analyze their pledges in the Nationally Determined Contributions submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and will review their relevant transport sector strategies, policies, and practices. It will also look at trends in transport sector emissions and air pollution in different cities, including the short-term impacts of COVID-19. Lastly, it reviews governance issues and the roles that institutions should play to implement polices to decarbonize transport. Based on this analysis, this paper offers policy suggestions to accelerate actions, enhance cross-sectoral coordination, and move towards carbon neutrality in the transport sector in Asia. Full article
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Article
A Combined Approach of Remote Sensing, GIS, and Social Media to Create and Disseminate Bushfire Warning Contents to Rural Australia
Earth 2021, 2(4), 715-730; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2040042 - 06 Oct 2021
Viewed by 234
Abstract
Bushfires are an integral part of the forest regeneration cycle in Australia. However, from the perspective of a natural disaster, the impact of bushfires on human settlements and the environment is massive. In Australia, bushfires are the most disastrous natural hazards. According to [...] Read more.
Bushfires are an integral part of the forest regeneration cycle in Australia. However, from the perspective of a natural disaster, the impact of bushfires on human settlements and the environment is massive. In Australia, bushfires are the most disastrous natural hazards. According to the records of the Parliament of Australia, the recent catastrophic bushfires in NSW and Victoria burnt out over 10 million hectares of land, a figure more significant than any previous bushfire damage on record. After the deadly 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, which killed 173 people in Victoria, public attention to bushfires reached a new peak. Due to the disastrous consequences of bushfires, scientists have explored various methods to mitigate or even avoid bushfire damage, including the use of bushfire alerts. The present study adds satellite imagery and GIS-based semi-real-time bushfire contents to various bushfire warnings issued by government authorities. The new product will disseminate graphical bushfire contents to rural Australians through social media, using Google Maps. This low-cost Media GIS content can be delivered through highly popular smartphone networks in Australia through social media (Facebook and Twitter). We expect its success to encourage people to participate in disaster mitigation efforts as contributors in a participatory GIS network. This paper presents a case study to demonstrate the production process and the quality of media GIS content and further discusses the potential of using social media through the mobile network of Australia while paying attention to mobile blackspots. Media GIS content has the potential to link with the public information systems of local fire management services, disseminate contents through a mobile app, and develop into a fully automated media GIS content system to expand the service beyond bushfires. Full article
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Article
Assessment of Physicochemical Properties and Comparative Pollution Status of the Dhaleshwari River in Bangladesh
Earth 2021, 2(4), 696-714; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2040041 - 30 Sep 2021
Viewed by 199
Abstract
The Dhaleshwari river which flows near Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is currently under threat due to the recent relocation of the Hazaribagh tannery to the Savar area. This study investigated the physicochemical parameters of water quality along with the heavy metal levels [...] Read more.
The Dhaleshwari river which flows near Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, is currently under threat due to the recent relocation of the Hazaribagh tannery to the Savar area. This study investigated the physicochemical parameters of water quality along with the heavy metal levels in the Dhaleshwari river and performed a comparative analysis among the peripheral rivers around Dhaka City. Surface water quality parameters such as total dissolved solids (TDS), biochemical oxygen demand (BOD5), and chemical oxygen demand (COD) obtained for the Dhaleshwari river deviated by as much as 90% from World Health Organization (WHO) standards in certain instances due to direct discharge from untreated point sources. Concentrations of toxic metals such as chromium (Cr), cadmium (Cd), and nickel (Ni) were above the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) standards for heavy metals in surface waters. Strong correlations among the heavy metals indicated significant linear dependences. Based on the physicochemical and toxicity-based characterization, the river system in Dhaka city can be termed as severely polluted with respect to organic and solids discharge, while ecological risk indices (ERI) indicated disastrously high risk in the Dhaleshwari and Buriganga rivers. The study outcomes emphasize the necessity of frequent investigation while controlling the point and nonpoint urban pollution sources discharging into the peripheral rivers of Dhaka city. Full article
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Article
Land Cover Change and Soil Carbon Regulating Ecosystem Services in the State of South Carolina, USA
Earth 2021, 2(4), 674-695; https://doi.org/10.3390/earth2040040 - 26 Sep 2021
Viewed by 321
Abstract
Integration of land cover change with soil information is important for valuation of soil carbon (C) regulating ecosystem services (ES) and disservices (ED) and for site-specific land management. The objective of this study was to assess the change in value of regulating ES [...] Read more.
Integration of land cover change with soil information is important for valuation of soil carbon (C) regulating ecosystem services (ES) and disservices (ED) and for site-specific land management. The objective of this study was to assess the change in value of regulating ES from soil organic carbon (SOC), soil inorganic carbon (SIC), and total soil carbon (TSC) stocks, based on the concept of the avoided social cost of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions for the state of South Carolina (SC) in the United States of America (U.S.A.) by soil order (Soil Taxonomy), land cover, and land cover change (National Land Cover Database, NLCD) using information from the State Soil Geographic (STATSGO) and Soil Survey Geographic Database (SSURGO) databases. Classified land cover data for 2001 and 2016 were downloaded from the Multi-Resolution Land Characteristics Consortium (MRLC) website. The total estimated monetary mid-point value for TSC in the state of South Carolina was $124.42B (i.e., $124.42 billion U.S. dollars, where B = billion = 109) with the following monetary distribution in 2016 and percent change in value between 2001 and 2016: barren land ($259.7M, −9%) (i.e., $259.7 million U.S. dollars, where M = million = 106), woody wetlands ($33.8B, −1%), shrub/scrub ($3.9B, +9%), mixed forest ($6.9B, +5%), deciduous forest ($10.6B, −7%), herbaceous ($4.8B, −5%), evergreen forest ($28.6B, +1%), emergent herbaceous wetlands ($6.9B, −3%), hay/pasture ($7.3B, −10%), cultivated crops ($9.9B, 0%), developed, open space ($7.0B, +5%), developed, medium intensity ($978M, +46%), developed, low intensity ($2.9B, +15%), and developed, high intensity ($318M, +39%). The percent change in monetary values was different from percent change in areas because different soil orders have different TSC contents. The percent changes (between 2001 and 2016) both in areas and monetary values varied by soil order and land cover with $1.1B in likely “realized” social cost of C mostly associated with Ultisols ($658.8M). The Midlands region of the state experienced the highest gains in the “high disturbance” classes and corresponding SC-CO2 with over $421M for TSC, $354.6M for SOC, and $66.4M for SIC. Among counties, Horry County ranked first with over $142.2M in SC-CO2 for TSC, followed by Lexington ($103.7M), Richland ($95.3M), Greenville ($81.4M), York ($77.5M), Charleston ($70.7M), Beaufort ($64.1M), Berkeley ($50.9M), Spartanburg ($50.0M), and Aiken ($43.0M) counties. Spatial and temporal analyses of land cover can identify critical locations of soil carbon regulating ecosystem services at risk. Full article
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