Emergent Trends in Managed Landscapes: Land Change, Forest Transformation, and Resource Management in the 21st Century

A special issue of Forests (ISSN 1999-4907). This special issue belongs to the section "Forest Ecology and Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2019)

Special Issue Editors

Canada Research Chair (T2) in the Human Dimensions of Sustainability and Resilience, Department of Geography, Vancouver Island University, 900 Fifth Street, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6E9, Canada
Interests: tropical forest change; wildfire management; rural development and forest conservation; land use; forest transitions; payment for environmental services; REDD+; GIS/remote sensing
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Guest Editor
Department for Innovation in Biological, Agrifood and Forestry Systems, Tuscia University, Viterbo, Italy
Interests: forests; biology; ecosystems; livestock products; floods; droughts; gross primary productivity; urbanization; greenhouse gas emission; life cycle assessments; soil organic carbon; eddy covariance; net ecosystem exchange; citizen science; satellite imagery; mathematical modeling; artificial neural networks
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The 21st century is witness to novel trends in land-cover change and associated management regimes concerned with rural and forested areas in the Global South. Globalization has transformed these managed landscapes, economically, biophysically, politically, and demographically, introducing new structures atop pre-existing dynamics. Myriad hybrid regimes of landscape change and management have arisen, entailing divergences from 20th century norms in terms of their scale, pace, nature, agents, and geography. Emergent dynamics have variously given rise to unprecedented reforestation, deforestation, agro-industrialization, and conservation, often accompanied by an associated, emergent management regime, e.g., multi-lateral forest restoration initiatives, legislated land swaps of intact-forest for degraded-forest development sites, corporate self-regulation movements. Acute 21st century pressures – particularly climate change and its mitigation, food insecurity, conservation and development – have fostered new roles for the State and commercial entities alike, reflecting the growing scales of emergent trends as well as the breadth of their implications. In some respects, the role of the State has expanded, albeit often via alignments with ascendant commercial interests, raising questions as to the potential for appropriate and adept management of rural and forested landscapes.

Descriptions of emergent land-change ‘events’ entailing forest gain, loss, or transformation in managed landscapes across the Global South have often characterized them as ends unto themselves, without regard to underlying historical or ensuing dynamics. In response, this special issue invites integrative perspectives on major emergent trends in land-use/cover change and associated political/economic management regimes across the Global South. Attention is given to lands and forests in rural or managed landscapes, the human dimensions of their development, emergent roles of the State and other relevant stakeholders influencing or reacting to novel trends, and to the concept of forest transformation – understood as the increasingly anthropogenic (i.e., managed, cultivated, intervened, planted) character of forest cover without corresponding major changes to overall forest area.

The following are promising, but non-exclusive, themes for contributions:

  • Post forest-transition dynamics: How is new forest cover (including agro-forestry, planted forests, and natural regrowth) sustained, threatened, protected, perceived, and/or modified after arising in actively-managed landscapes?
  • Historical legacies: How do novel trends in the geography, nature, and management of rural lands and managed forest areas reflect historical legacies of land-cover change and management? What are the implications for landscape management, environmental services?
  • Management efficacy: In the context of emergent, large-scale trends in land use/cover change, how have the roles of landscape managers shifted, locally, nationally and globally? How has the role of the State shifted, particularly as other interests have become more ascendant, assertive, or relevant to emergent trends? Have managers ‘kept pace’ with the scale and pace of landscape change?  
  • Forest transformations and ecosystem services: To what extent may ecosystem services return over the course of forest transformation? What are key determining factors over space and time? To what degree may forest restoration recover ecosystem services within human-managed landscapes at varying stages of transformation?
  • How do we monitor and predict forest transformations ? : New advances in forest monitoring technologies both “in situ” and remote/proximal have increased spatial and temporal resolution at unprecedented detail. The use of such information is particularly valuable to detect human direct effects even at fine scales and hence understand better the dynamic and the drivers of current transformations. Also predicting tools in the form of models of various complexity, from detailed biogeochemistry models, to population dynamics and data driven algorithms are important to provide management solutions for the future. Contributions may be research papers, commentaries, or reviews.

Dr. Sean Sloan
Prof. Dr. Riccardo Valentini
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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. Forests 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 2600 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.


  • reforestation
  • resource management
  • forest restoration
  • landscape management
  • sustainability
  • Global South

Published Papers (1 paper)

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13 pages, 997 KiB  
Evaluating the Contribution of Trees outside Forests and Small Open Areas to the Italian Landscape Diversification during the Last Decades
by Lorenzo Sallustio, Marco Di Cristofaro, Maaz Maqsood Hashmi, Matteo Vizzarri, Tommaso Sitzia, Bruno Lasserre and Marco Marchetti
Forests 2018, 9(11), 701; https://doi.org/10.3390/f9110701 - 12 Nov 2018
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3178
Land use by humans strongly alters the landscape mosaic, either by reducing or increasing its heterogeneity. One of the most recent and widespread land use changes in Europe has been the spontaneous reforestation of marginal agricultural lands. These primarily affected small landscape patches, [...] Read more.
Land use by humans strongly alters the landscape mosaic, either by reducing or increasing its heterogeneity. One of the most recent and widespread land use changes in Europe has been the spontaneous reforestation of marginal agricultural lands. These primarily affected small landscape patches, such as trees outside forests (TOF) and small open areas (SOA), often represent the most diversifying features of landscape’ structures. Nevertheless, only small-scale studies can be found in the literature and thus it remains a relatively unexplored issue. Integrating inventory and cartographic approaches, this work assesses changes in abundance, coverage, and average size of small patches in Italy between 1990 and 2013. Main results showed an overall increase in number and coverage of small patches during the reference period. The average patch size remains unaltered for TOF but decreases significantly for SOA, due to trees encroachment and canopy cover increasing in forests. Our findings confirm the important changes in Mediterranean land mosaics and contribute to a better understanding of current conditions and recent trends regarding TOF and SOA. The integrated approach has proven to be helpful for the large-scale assessment of small patches dynamics, representing a viable monitoring tool to encourage the inclusion of small patches in landscape policy and planning. Full article
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