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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Drought Impacts, Coping Responses and Adaptation in the UK Outdoor Livestock Sector: Insights to Increase Drought Resilience
Land 2020, 9(6), 202; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9060202 - 18 Jun 2020
Abstract
Drought has detrimental impacts on crop and livestock farming systems worldwide, but less attention has been given to outdoor livestock systems, particularly in humid temperate regions. This research evaluated how an intense drought in 2018 impacted the UK livestock sector and the responses [...] Read more.
Drought has detrimental impacts on crop and livestock farming systems worldwide, but less attention has been given to outdoor livestock systems, particularly in humid temperate regions. This research evaluated how an intense drought in 2018 impacted the UK livestock sector and the responses adopted by key actors, though a combination of analysis of weekly agricultural trade publications and semi-structured interviews with livestock farmers. Drought impacts centred on feed and fodder availability, animal productivity and welfare, farm economics, and farmer well-being, with strong inter-dependencies observed. Most drought responses by farmers were reactive short-term coping strategies to address feed shortages, with three main strategies applied: management of available grazing and feed; selling livestock to reduce feed demand and to obtain income; and buying-in additional feed. Few longer-term adaptive measures were identified due to a range of constraints. Moving forwards, the UK livestock sector needs to convert the learning from the reactive measures implemented in 2018 into pro-active drought planning approaches. The current political changes in the UK also provides a unique opportunity for agricultural policy to better reward the desirable nationally- and locally-important non-market services or public goods that livestock farming provides. Together, these should support increased drought resilience in livestock farming and increased farming viability. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Quantifying the Economic Value of Ecosystem Services in Oil Palm Dominated Landscapes in Riau Province in Sumatra, Indonesia
Land 2020, 9(6), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9060194 - 11 Jun 2020
Abstract
Ecosystem services in oil palm plantations owned by smallholders in four villages in the Riau Province, Indonesia were identified and valued. Nine provisioning, three regulating and maintenance, one cultural ecosystem service, and a single ecosystem dis-service, were identified from interviews with 62 farming [...] Read more.
Ecosystem services in oil palm plantations owned by smallholders in four villages in the Riau Province, Indonesia were identified and valued. Nine provisioning, three regulating and maintenance, one cultural ecosystem service, and a single ecosystem dis-service, were identified from interviews with 62 farming households. Direct and indirect market valuation methods were used to estimate the total economic value (TEV) of these services, which averaged USD 6520 ha−1 year−1 (range = USD 2970–7729 ha−1 year−1). The values of provisioning services were USD 4331 ha−1 year−1 (range = USD 2263–5489 ha−1 year−1), regulating and maintenance services were valued at USD 1880 ha−1 year−1 (range of USD 707–3110 ha−1 year−1), and cultural services were USD 309 ha−1 year−1. We conclude that identifying and valuing ecosystem services offers an opportunity to improve the environmental and economic sustainability of smallholders in oil palm landscapes in Indonesia. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Landscape Approach towards Integrated Conservation and Use of Primeval Forests: The Transboundary Kovda River Catchment in Russia and Finland
Land 2020, 9(5), 144; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9050144 - 09 May 2020
Abstract
Regional clear-felling of naturally dynamic boreal forests has left remote forest landscapes in northern Europe with challenges regarding rural development based on wood mining. However, biodiversity conservation with higher levels of ambition than what is possible in regions with a long forest history, [...] Read more.
Regional clear-felling of naturally dynamic boreal forests has left remote forest landscapes in northern Europe with challenges regarding rural development based on wood mining. However, biodiversity conservation with higher levels of ambition than what is possible in regions with a long forest history, and cultural heritage, offer opportunities for developing new value chains that support rural development. We explored the opportunities for pro-active integrated spatial planning based on: (i) landscapes’ natural and cultural heritage values in the transboundary Kovda River catchment in Russia and Finland; (ii) forest canopy loss as a threat; and (iii) private, public and civil sector stakeholders’ views on the use and non-use values at local to international levels. After a 50-year history of wood mining in Russia, the remaining primeval forest and cultural heritage remnants are located along the pre-1940 Finnish-Russian border. Forest canopy loss was higher in Finland (0.42%/year) than in Russia (0.09%/year), and decreased from the south to the north in both countries. The spatial scales of stakeholders’ use of forest landscapes ranged from stand-scale to the entire catchment of Kovda River in Russia and Finland (~2,600,000 ha). We stress the need to develop an integrated landscape approach that includes: (i) forest landscape goods; (ii) other ecosystem services and values found in intact forest landscapes; and (iii) adaptive local and regional forest landscape governance. Transboundary collaboration offers opportunities for effective knowledge production and learning. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Landslide Mapping and Susceptibility Assessment Using Geospatial Analysis and Earth Observation Data
Land 2020, 9(5), 133; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9050133 - 28 Apr 2020
Abstract
The western part of Crete Island has undergone serious landslide events in the past. The intense rainfalls that took place in the September 2018 to February 2019 period provoked extensive landslide events at the northern part of Chania prefecture, along the motorway A90. [...] Read more.
The western part of Crete Island has undergone serious landslide events in the past. The intense rainfalls that took place in the September 2018 to February 2019 period provoked extensive landslide events at the northern part of Chania prefecture, along the motorway A90. Geospatial analysis methods and earth observation data were utilized to investigate the impact of the various physical and anthropogenic factors on landslides and to evaluate landslide susceptibility. The landslide inventory map was created based on literature, aerial photo analysis, satellite images, and field surveys. A very high-resolution Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and land cover map was produced from a dense point cloud and Earth Observation data (Landsat 8), accordingly. Sentinel-2 data were used for the detection of the recent landslide events and offered suitable information for two of them. Eight triggering factors were selected and manipulated in a GIS-based environment. A semi-quantitative method of Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP) and Weighted Linear Combination (WLC) was applied to evaluate the landslide susceptibility index (LSI) both for Chania prefecture and the motorway A90 in Chania. The validation of the two LSI maps provided accurate results and, in addition, several susceptible points with high landslide hazards along the motorway A90 were detected. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Anthropogenic Biomes: 10,000 BCE to 2015 CE
Land 2020, 9(5), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9050129 - 25 Apr 2020
Abstract
Human populations and their use of land have reshaped landscapes for thousands of years, creating the anthropogenic biomes (anthromes) that now cover most of the terrestrial biosphere. Here we introduce the first global reconstruction and mapping of anthromes and their changes across the [...] Read more.
Human populations and their use of land have reshaped landscapes for thousands of years, creating the anthropogenic biomes (anthromes) that now cover most of the terrestrial biosphere. Here we introduce the first global reconstruction and mapping of anthromes and their changes across the 12,000-year interval from 10,000 BCE to 2015 CE; the Anthromes 12K dataset. Anthromes were mapped using gridded global estimates of human population density and land use from the History of the Global Environment database (HYDE version 3.2) by a classification procedure similar to that used for prior anthrome maps. Anthromes 12K maps generally agreed with prior anthrome maps for the same time periods, though significant differences were observed, including a substantial reduction in Rangelands anthromes in 2000 CE but with increases before that time. Differences between maps resulted largely from improvements in HYDE’s representation of land use, including pastures and rangelands, compared with the HYDE 3.1 input data used in prior anthromes maps. The larger extent of early land use in Anthromes 12K also agrees more closely with empirical assessments than prior anthrome maps; the result of an evidence-based paradigm shift in characterizing the history of Earth’s transformation through land use, from a mostly recent large-scale conversion of uninhabited wildlands, to a long-term trend of increasingly intensive transformation and use of already inhabited and used landscapes. The spatial history of anthropogenic changes depicted in Anthromes 12K remain to be validated, especially for earlier time periods. Nevertheless, Anthromes 12K is a major advance over all prior anthrome datasets and provides a new platform for assessing the long-term environmental consequences of human transformation of the terrestrial biosphere. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Land Systems and Global Change)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Inclusive Landscape Governance for Sustainable Development: Assessment Methodology and Lessons for Civil Society Organizations
Land 2020, 9(4), 128; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9040128 - 24 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Landscape governance refers to the combination of rules and decision-making processes of civic, private, and public actors with stakes in the landscape, that together shape the future of that landscape. As part of the Green Livelihoods Alliance, a program that supports civil society [...] Read more.
Landscape governance refers to the combination of rules and decision-making processes of civic, private, and public actors with stakes in the landscape, that together shape the future of that landscape. As part of the Green Livelihoods Alliance, a program that supports civil society organizations (CSOs) to strengthen the governance of tropical forested landscapes, we developed and implemented a method that facilitates stakeholders to assess the status of governance in their own landscape and to identify options for improvement. In this article, we aim to reflect on landscape governance, based on our work within the Green Livelihoods Alliance. We present the method, summarize the results of its implementation, and draw practical lessons regarding the role of CSOs to improve landscape governance. We conducted workshops with stakeholders in 17 forested landscapes across 10 countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. During each workshop, participants scored and discussed a set of governance indicators, developed a common vision for landscape governance, and identified the practical steps that would need to be taken to achieve that vision. Analyzing the results from the workshops, we found that landscape stakeholders tend to perceive that: opportunities to influence decision-making are unequal; integrated landscape planning efforts remain noncommittal; and implementation and enforcement of regulations is weak. To improve governance in the future, it is common to call for the development of multi-stakeholder processes, to allow different actors to discuss, negotiate, and develop collaborative action to address landscape-level challenges. CSOs can support such processes, by helping to develop a shared understanding of landscape governance, differences in interests, and possibilities for collaborative action. CSOs can also help stakeholders to develop multi-stakeholder procedures, and build trust and capacity among stakeholders to take an active role in such processes. Full article
Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Community-Led Green Land Acquisition: Social Innovative Initiatives for Forest Protection and Regional Development
Land 2020, 9(4), 109; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9040109 - 04 Apr 2020
Abstract
Land acquisition often involves power and displacement and can be carried out on a large scale. There are many forms of land acquisition, including for environmental and conservation purposes as well as for production activities. While green grabbing has joined land grabbing as [...] Read more.
Land acquisition often involves power and displacement and can be carried out on a large scale. There are many forms of land acquisition, including for environmental and conservation purposes as well as for production activities. While green grabbing has joined land grabbing as an environmental justice issue of concern, it is not necessarily the case that all green land acquisition is large scale, done by powerful outsiders, or leads to displacement and exclusion. The outcomes of green land acquisition are dependent on the mechanisms used, the adequacy of resettlement and/or compensation, and the social and environmental context in which it happens. We discuss the outcomes of community-led land acquisition for conservation purposes in Costa Rica. We considered a special case of green land acquisition done by local civil society to defend the forest and water resources of the Juan Castro Blanco National Water Park in Costa Rica. We used the literature on green grabbing, social ecological systems, and social innovation to discuss local environmental governance and regional sustainable development. This paper makes a fresh contribution to environmental planning and environmental governance by bringing in aspects of green land acquisition that have not been previously explored. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Gendered Species Preferences Link Tree Diversity and Carbon Stocks in Cacao Agroforest in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia
Land 2020, 9(4), 108; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9040108 - 03 Apr 2020
Abstract
The degree to which the maintenance of carbon (C) stocks and tree diversity can be jointly achieved in production landscapes is debated. C stocks in forests are decreased by logging before tree diversity is affected, while C stocks in monoculture tree plantations increase, [...] Read more.
The degree to which the maintenance of carbon (C) stocks and tree diversity can be jointly achieved in production landscapes is debated. C stocks in forests are decreased by logging before tree diversity is affected, while C stocks in monoculture tree plantations increase, but diversity does not. Agroforestry can break this hysteresis pattern, relevant for policies in search of synergy. We compared total C stocks and tree diversity among degraded forest, complex cacao/fruit tree agroforests, simple shade-tree cacao agroforestry, monoculture cacao, and annual crops in the Konawe District, Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. We evaluated farmer tree preferences and the utility value of the system for 40 farmers (male and female). The highest tree diversity (Shannon–Wiener H index 2.36) and C stocks (282 Mg C ha−1) were found in degraded forest, followed by cacao-based agroforestry systems (H index ranged from 0.58–0.93 with C stocks of 75–89 Mg ha−1). Male farmers selected timber and fruit tree species with economic benefits as shade trees, while female farmers preferred production for household needs (fruit trees and vegetables). Carbon stocks and tree diversity were positively related (R2 = 0.72). Adding data from across Indonesia (n = 102), agroforestry systems had an intermediate position between forest decline and reforestation responses. Maintaining agroforestry in the landscape allows aboveground C stocks up to 50 Mg ha−1 and reduces biodiversity loss. Agroforestry facilitates climate change mitigation and biodiversity goals to be addressed simultaneously in sustainable production landscapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agroforestry-Based Ecosystem Services)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Using a Social-ecological Regime Shift Approach to Understand the Transition from Livestock to Game Farming in the Eastern Cape, South Africa
Land 2020, 9(4), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9040097 - 26 Mar 2020
Abstract
This study explored the shift in land use from livestock farming to game farming in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, from a social-ecological regime shift perspective. A regime shift can be defined as a large, persistent change in the structure and function of [...] Read more.
This study explored the shift in land use from livestock farming to game farming in the Eastern Cape, South Africa, from a social-ecological regime shift perspective. A regime shift can be defined as a large, persistent change in the structure and function of the intertwined social and ecological components of a landscape. This research focused on the Amakhala game reserve as a case study to understand how the shift affected the provision of ecosystem services and human wellbeing. We used remote sensing techniques to quantify changes in vegetation and found evidence of vegetation recovery following the shift. We then conducted interviews with both landowners and farmworkers and used participatory mapping to understand their perceptions of the main drivers and social-ecological impacts of the shift in land use. Social narratives revealed stark differences in different stakeholders’ perceptions, highlighting that the change in land use had varied implications for, and were perceived differently by, different stakeholders. Farmworkers emphasized changes in social structures that weakened community bonds and erased valued connections to the land. At the same time, they increased employment of women, skills development, and increased wages as benefits of the new game farming regime. Landowners, on the other hand, indicated financial gains from the land use change. The transition therefore resulted in trade-offs that surfaced as social, economic, and cultural losses and gains. These changes, especially in social relationships and community structures, have implications for resilience and possible future pathways of development in the region. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Land Systems and Global Change)
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Open AccessFeature PaperEditor’s ChoiceArticle
A Visual Typology of Abandonment in Rural America: From End-of-Life to Treading Water, Recycling, Renaissance, and Revival
Land 2020, 9(3), 94; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030094 - 23 Mar 2020
Abstract
The contemporary American rural landscape reflects a mix of ongoing economic changes in agricultural land use, population change, and built environments. The mix depends on past and recent change which represent landscapes of memory and silence to those experiencing economic and demographic renaissance. [...] Read more.
The contemporary American rural landscape reflects a mix of ongoing economic changes in agricultural land use, population change, and built environments. The mix depends on past and recent change which represent landscapes of memory and silence to those experiencing economic and demographic renaissance. We develop a typology of five stages that reflect the contemporary rural scene and conduct field transects in Northwest Iowa and Central Maine. Features of the dynamics in rural America are evident in photographs of residences, land use changes, and commercial structure. The study calls for additional studies on rural settlement populations, economies, and society in different environmental settings. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Abandonment: Patterns, Drivers and Consequences)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Migration, Remittances, and Forest Cover Change in Rural Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico
Land 2020, 9(3), 88; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030088 - 17 Mar 2020
Abstract
This article investigates how migration and remittances affect forest cover in eight rural communities in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico. Based on household surveys and remote sensing data, we found little evidence to support the widespread claim that migration takes pressure off forests. In [...] Read more.
This article investigates how migration and remittances affect forest cover in eight rural communities in Guatemala and Chiapas, Mexico. Based on household surveys and remote sensing data, we found little evidence to support the widespread claim that migration takes pressure off forests. In the Chiapas sites, we observed no significant changes in forest cover since 1990, while in the Guatemalan sites, migration may have increased demand for agricultural land, leading to an average annual forest loss of 0.73% during the first decade of the millennium. We suggest that when attractive opportunities exist to invest in agriculture and land expansion, remittances and returnee savings provide fresh capital that is likely to increase pressure on forests. Our study also has implications for the understanding of migration flows; in particular, migration has not implied an exodus out of agriculture for the remaining household members nor for the returning migrants. On the contrary, returning migrants are more likely to be involved in farming activities after their return than they were before leaving. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Migration and Land)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
The Potential Supply and Demand of Farmers’ Land Contract Rights-Based on 697 Households in Four Provinces of China
Land 2020, 9(3), 80; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030080 - 10 Mar 2020
Abstract
A new urbanization and rural revitalization strategy has been implemented in China over a number of years, under which farmers’ land contract rights (LCRs) flow inevitably through various means. The practice in reform pilot areas indicates that government funds cannot meet all the [...] Read more.
A new urbanization and rural revitalization strategy has been implemented in China over a number of years, under which farmers’ land contract rights (LCRs) flow inevitably through various means. The practice in reform pilot areas indicates that government funds cannot meet all the needs, so exploring market-based LCR payout paths is important for rural land tenure system reform. The purpose of this study is to answer questions such as the following: How would farmers respond if they were allowed to trade LCRs? Is there an equilibrium point between the potential supply and demand of LCRs? Which factors would affect the potential supply and demand of LCRs? In this study, 697 valid questionnaires from Ningxia, Hebei, Henan, and Shandong provinces, China, were used for analysis by the multiple bounded discrete choice (MBDC) method and MBDC-Tobit model. The results show that there is a potential market among rural collective households in China, with an equilibrium price of ¥27,800/mu ($59,714.4/ha), and a proportion of farmers who are willing to buy or sell LCRs is around 10.0%. The factors affecting the potential supply and demand of LCRs include land grade, average agricultural income per unit, total money to buy urban houses and cars, age, number of household members with a college education or above, and risk appetite. If the institutional barriers that hinder LCR transactions were eliminated, the potential supply and demand of LCRs would be matched, and the market would provide funds for next-stage reforms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Urban Contexts and Urban-Rural Interactions)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Decolonising Conservation Policy: How Colonial Land and Conservation Ideologies Persist and Perpetuate Indigenous Injustices at the Expense of the Environment
Land 2020, 9(3), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030065 - 25 Feb 2020
Abstract
The livelihoods of indigenous peoples, custodians of the world’s forests since time immemorial, were eroded as colonial powers claimed de jure control over their ancestral lands. The continuation of European land regimes in Africa and Asia meant that the withdrawal of colonial powers [...] Read more.
The livelihoods of indigenous peoples, custodians of the world’s forests since time immemorial, were eroded as colonial powers claimed de jure control over their ancestral lands. The continuation of European land regimes in Africa and Asia meant that the withdrawal of colonial powers did not bring about a return to customary land tenure. Further, the growth in environmentalism has been interpreted by some as entailing conservation ahead of people. While this may be justifiable in view of devastating anthropocentric breaching of planetary boundaries, continued support for “fortress” style conservation inflicts real harm on indigenous communities and overlooks sustainable solutions to deepening climate crises. In reflecting on this issue from the perspective of colonial land tenure systems, this article highlights how ideas—the importance of individualised land ownership, cultivation, and fortress conservation—are intellectually flawed. Prevailing conservation policies, made possible by global non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and statutory donors, continue to harm indigenous peoples and their traditional territories. Drawing from the authors’ experience representing the Batwa (DRC), the Ogiek and Endorois (Kenya) and Adivasis (India) in international litigation, this paper examines the human and environmental costs associated with modern conservation approaches through this colonial lens. This article concludes by reflecting on approaches that respect environmental and human rights. Full article
Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
The Changing Structure and Concentration of Agricultural Land Holdings in Estonia and Possible Threat for Rural Areas
Land 2020, 9(2), 41; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9020041 - 02 Feb 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
In most European countries, there has been a decrease in the number of farms, while the area of agricultural land has remained almost the same. This ongoing process of land concentration can affect Europe’s small farms and rural areas. The EU has acknowledged [...] Read more.
In most European countries, there has been a decrease in the number of farms, while the area of agricultural land has remained almost the same. This ongoing process of land concentration can affect Europe’s small farms and rural areas. The EU has acknowledged that the problem is serious and that, to solve it, it must be studied more closely. Accordingly, the aim of this study is to discuss changes in the agricultural sector from the aspect of land use, with emphasis on land concentration in Estonia, further scientific discussion about the effects of changes in land use on rural areas is encouraged. The study is carried out using two kinds of data sources: (1) statistical data from Eurostat, FAOSTAT and Statistics Estonia, (2) data from the Estonian Agricultural Registers and Information Board. The conclusion of the paper is that while the number of farms is going down, the average area of agricultural land use per farm is on the rise in Estonia. Agricultural land has been increasingly concentrated into the hands of corporate bodies. This study shows that there is a status of land concentration in Estonia that needs ongoing studies and a proper policy should be established to mitigate the impact of land concentration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Women, Youths, and Land Tools or Methods)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Assessing Changes in Ecosystem Service Values over 1985–2050 in Response to Land Use and Land Cover Dynamics in Abaya-Chamo Basin, Southern Ethiopia
Land 2020, 9(2), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9020037 - 27 Jan 2020
Abstract
This study evaluated the effect of Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) dynamics on the value of ecosystem services in Abaya-Chamo basin over 1985–2050. The main objectives of the study were to estimate the value of ecosystem services of Abaya-Chamo basin using local [...] Read more.
This study evaluated the effect of Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) dynamics on the value of ecosystem services in Abaya-Chamo basin over 1985–2050. The main objectives of the study were to estimate the value of ecosystem services of Abaya-Chamo basin using local and global ecosystem service value coefficients, assess how it changes over time, and develop tools to inform policy and public decision-making to protect lands and waters in the region. The study utilized observed (1985 and 2010) and predicted (2030 and 2050) LULC datasets and ecosystem service value coefficients obtained from publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The results indicated that the total ecosystem service value of Abaya-Chamo basin was 12.13 billion USD in 1985 and 12.45 billion USD in 2010. The value is predicted to increase to 12.47 billion USD by the year 2050, which is 2.84% (344.5 million USD) higher than the total value of ecosystem services of the basin in 1985. Although the total ecosystem service value of the basin showed a slight increase over the study period, it was observed that the total value of services obtained from natural ecosystems is expected to decline by 36.24% between 1985 and 2050. The losses of services obtained from natural ecosystems, such as water regulation and erosion control, are major concern as the consequence has already been reported in the basin in the form of reduced water quality and productivity of the lakes due to an increased soil erosion and sediment transport in the basin. Therefore, special attention should be given to the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems and the protection of remaining natural vegetation and water bodies to enhance natural capital and ecosystem services in the basin. A large-scale dissemination of eco-agricultural land use practices, which provide multiple ecosystem services (such as agroforestry and heterogeneous agricultural areas) in the basin, needs to be considered in the future. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Peacebuilding in Rural Colombia—A Collective Perception of the Integrated Rural Reform (IRR) in the Department of Caquetá (Amazon)
Land 2020, 9(2), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9020036 - 25 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The 2016 peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP created institutional space for an effective implementation of needed rural reforms. However, the change of power structures also contains risks, like the deterioration of natural resources and the strengthening of other [...] Read more.
The 2016 peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the FARC-EP created institutional space for an effective implementation of needed rural reforms. However, the change of power structures also contains risks, like the deterioration of natural resources and the strengthening of other armed groups. By addressing collective perceptions regarding the Integrated Rural Reform (IRR), this paper shows the consequences of the peace agreement for the rural population in the department of Caquetá. Additionally, it presents the main challenges for further departmental development. The case study approach uses both semi-structured expert interviews of rural development stakeholders in different sectors based on three sampling strands, as well as participatory observation in the field. The main findings show an increase of general physical security and (economic) interest in the department since the signing of the agreement, while the deforestation rate, homicides, and threats against social-environmental leaders were all highly increased. The study also derives recommendations of departmental actors in rural development for a more effective peace implementation process, like the change from cattle driven to a more conservational economy with agri-silviculture and ecotourism, led by local civil society. To create a stable peace, it is crucial that the current government effectively implements the IRR, while also considering departmental perceptions of sustainable development. If the implementation process and departmental recognition is not enforced sufficiently, then peace might only be possible at the cost of the Amazon and its nature. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Contextualizing Landscape-Scale Forest Cover Loss in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) between 2000 and 2015
Land 2020, 9(1), 23; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9010023 - 16 Jan 2020
Abstract
Shifting cultivation has been shown to be the primary cause of land use change in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Traditionally, forested and fallow land are rotated in a slash and burn cycle that has created an agricultural mosaic, including secondary forest, [...] Read more.
Shifting cultivation has been shown to be the primary cause of land use change in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Traditionally, forested and fallow land are rotated in a slash and burn cycle that has created an agricultural mosaic, including secondary forest, known as the rural complex. This study investigates the land use context of new forest clearing (during 2000–2015) in primary forest areas outside of the established rural complex. These new forest clearings occur as either rural complex expansion (RCE) or isolated forest perforations (IFP), with consequent implications on the forest ecosystem and biodiversity habitat. During 2000–2015, subsistence agriculture was the dominant driver of forest clearing for both extension of settled areas and pioneer clearings removed from settled areas. Less than 1% of clearing was directly attributable to land uses such as mining, plantations, and logging, showing that the impact of commercial operations in the DRC is currently dwarfed by a reliance on small-holder shifting cultivation. However, analyzing the landscape context showed that large-scale agroindustry and resource extraction activities lead to increased forest loss and degradation beyond their previously-understood footprints. The worker populations drawn to these areas create communities that rely on shifting cultivation and non-timber forest products (NTFP) for food, energy, and building materials. An estimated 12% of forest loss within the RCE and 9% of the area of IFP was found to be within 5 km of mines, logging, or plantations. Given increasing demographic and commercial pressures on DRC’s forests, it will be crucial to factor in this landscape-level land use change dynamic in land use planning and sustainability-focused governance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Landscape Ecology)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Hydrological Control of Vegetation Greenness Dynamics in Africa: A Multivariate Analysis Using Satellite Observed Soil Moisture, Terrestrial Water Storage and Precipitation
Land 2020, 9(1), 15; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9010015 - 10 Jan 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Vegetation activity in many parts of Africa is constrained by dynamics in the hydrologic cycle. Using satellite products, the relative importance of soil moisture, rainfall, and terrestrial water storage (TWS) on vegetation greenness seasonality and anomaly over Africa were assessed for the period [...] Read more.
Vegetation activity in many parts of Africa is constrained by dynamics in the hydrologic cycle. Using satellite products, the relative importance of soil moisture, rainfall, and terrestrial water storage (TWS) on vegetation greenness seasonality and anomaly over Africa were assessed for the period between 2003 and 2015. The possible delayed response of vegetation to water availability was considered by including 0–6 and 12 months of the hydrological variables lagged in time prior to the vegetation greenness observations. Except in the drylands, the relationship between vegetation greenness seasonality and the hydrological measures was generally strong across Africa. Contrarily, anomalies in vegetation greenness were generally less coupled to anomalies in water availability, except in some parts of eastern and southern Africa where a moderate relationship was evident. Soil moisture was the most important variable driving vegetation greenness in more than 50% of the areas studied, followed by rainfall when seasonality was considered, and by TWS when the monthly anomalies were used. Soil moisture and TWS were generally concurrent or lagged vegetation by 1 month, whereas precipitation lagged vegetation by 1–2 months. Overall, the results underscore the pre-eminence of soil moisture as an indicator of vegetation greenness among satellite measured hydrological variables. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Biodiversity Impacts of Increased Ethanol Production in Brazil
Land 2020, 9(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9010012 - 03 Jan 2020
Abstract
Growing domestic and international ethanol demand is expected to result in increased sugarcane cultivation in Brazil. Sugarcane expansion currently results in land-use changes mainly in the Cerrado and Atlantic Forest biomes, two severely threatened biodiversity hotspots. This study quantifies potential biodiversity impacts of [...] Read more.
Growing domestic and international ethanol demand is expected to result in increased sugarcane cultivation in Brazil. Sugarcane expansion currently results in land-use changes mainly in the Cerrado and Atlantic Forest biomes, two severely threatened biodiversity hotspots. This study quantifies potential biodiversity impacts of increased ethanol demand in Brazil in a spatially explicit manner. We project changes in potential total, threatened, endemic, and range-restricted mammals’ species richness up to 2030. Decreased potential species richness due to increased ethanol demand in 2030 was projected for about 19,000 km2 in the Cerrado, 17,000 km2 in the Atlantic Forest, and 7000 km2 in the Pantanal. In the Cerrado and Atlantic Forest, the biodiversity impacts of sugarcane expansion were mainly due to direct land-use change; in the Pantanal, they were largely due to indirect land-use change. The biodiversity impact of increased ethanol demand was projected to be smaller than the impact of other drivers of land-use change. This study provides a first indication of biodiversity impacts related to increased ethanol production in Brazil, which is useful for policy makers and ethanol producers aiming to mitigate impacts. Future research should assess the impact of potential mitigation options, such as nature protection, agroforestry, or agricultural intensification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioenergy and Land)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceArticle
Determinants of Agricultural Infrastructure Construction in China: Based on the “Participation of Beneficiary Groups” Perspective
Land 2020, 9(1), 6; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9010006 - 01 Jan 2020
Abstract
Agricultural infrastructure is a typical public good, and it plays an important role in rural development. The “participation of beneficiary groups (PBG)” system is encouraged by government to supply village level public goods in China. Based on micro survey data from the village [...] Read more.
Agricultural infrastructure is a typical public good, and it plays an important role in rural development. The “participation of beneficiary groups (PBG)” system is encouraged by government to supply village level public goods in China. Based on micro survey data from the village level in Jiangsu Province, this study analyzes the status of agricultural infrastructure construction and the promotion of PBG model and quantitatively analyzes the impact of different factors using an econometric model. The results found that the PBG model of agricultural infrastructure construction only accounted for 22.8% of projects, and the bottleneck was the challenge in raising funds at the village level; the total number of projects and the number of projects in the PBG model significantly increased with collective irrigation, and the farmland lease was found to hinder the promotion of the PBG model. The government should take measures to enhance farmers’ awareness of social trust, continuously improve the governance capacity of the village collectives, improve the role of village self-governance and social forces in agricultural infrastructure construction, and actively guide farmers and private enterprises to participate in agricultural infrastructure construction so that farmers can obtain more practical benefits. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Developing a Landscape Design Approach for the Sustainable Land Management of Hill Country Farms in New Zealand
Land 2020, 9(6), 185; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9060185 - 03 Jun 2020
Abstract
Landscape modification associated with agricultural intensification has brought considerable challenges for the sustainable development of New Zealand hill country farms. Addressing these challenges requires an appropriate approach to support farmers and design a better landscape that can have beneficial environmental outcomes whilst ensuring [...] Read more.
Landscape modification associated with agricultural intensification has brought considerable challenges for the sustainable development of New Zealand hill country farms. Addressing these challenges requires an appropriate approach to support farmers and design a better landscape that can have beneficial environmental outcomes whilst ensuring continued profitability. In this paper we suggest using geodesign and theories drawn from landscape ecology to plan and design multifunctional landscapes that offer improved sustainability for hill country farm systems and landscapes in New Zealand. This approach suggests that better decisions can be made by considering the major landscape services that are, and could be, provided by the landscapes in which these farm systems are situated. These important services should be included in future landscape design of hill country by creating a patterning and configuration of landscape features that actively maintains or restores important landscape functioning. This will help to improve landscape health and promote landscape resilience in the face of climate change. Through illustrating the potential of this type of approach for wider adoption we believe that the proposed conceptual framework offers a valuable reference for sustainable farm system design that can make an important contribution to advancing environmental management globally as well as in New Zealand. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Urban Greenways: A Systematic Review and Typology
Land 2020, 9(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9020040 - 01 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Greenways are multifunctional linear landscapes that provide a range of socio-ecological benefits. As a domain of landscape planning research, greenways gained traction in the late 20th century and today, there is substantial interest in greenway planning and design. This is especially true in [...] Read more.
Greenways are multifunctional linear landscapes that provide a range of socio-ecological benefits. As a domain of landscape planning research, greenways gained traction in the late 20th century and today, there is substantial interest in greenway planning and design. This is especially true in urban areas, as noted at the sixth Fábos Conference on Landscape and Greenway Planning. Yet, cities encompass biophysical flows, sociopolitical relationships, and formal structures that are distinct from non-urban areas and urban greenways may reflect an evolving type of landscape planning and design that is related to but distinct from greenways writ large. To the best of our knowledge, there has been no previous review of scholarship on greenways in an urban context. We address the aforementioned gaps by reporting on a systematic assessment of peer-reviewed literature. The review encompasses 52 refereed articles using the term “urban greenway” or “urban greenways” in the title, abstract, or keywords drawn from three prominent academic databases. Our analysis covers seven research categories, and this undergirds a typology and definition of urban greenways. In so doing, we seek to illuminate typical traits of urban greenways to inform future landscape planning scholarship and practice. Full article
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceReview
Impact of Agrochemicals on Soil Microbiota and Management: A Review
Land 2020, 9(2), 34; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9020034 - 23 Jan 2020
Cited by 6
Abstract
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that in developing nations, there are three million cases of agrochemical poisoning. The prolonged intensive and indiscriminate use of agrochemicals adversely affected the soil biodiversity, agricultural sustainability, and food safety, bringing in long-term harmful effects on nutritional [...] Read more.
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that in developing nations, there are three million cases of agrochemical poisoning. The prolonged intensive and indiscriminate use of agrochemicals adversely affected the soil biodiversity, agricultural sustainability, and food safety, bringing in long-term harmful effects on nutritional security, human and animal health. Most of the agrochemicals negatively affect soil microbial functions and biochemical processes. The alteration in diversity and composition of the beneficial microbial community can be unfavorable to plant growth and development either by reducing nutrient availability or by increasing disease incidence. Currently, there is a need for qualitative, innovative, and demand-driven research in soil science, especially in developing countries for facilitating of high-quality eco-friendly research by creating a conducive and trustworthy work atmosphere, thereby rewarding productivity and merits. Hence, we reviewed (1) the impact of various agrochemicals on the soil microbial diversity and environment; (2) the importance of smallholder farmers for sustainable crop protection and enhancement solutions, and (3) management strategies that serve the scientific community, policymakers, and land managers in integrating soil enhancement and sustainability practices in smallholder farming households. The current review provides an improved understanding of agricultural soil management for food and nutritional security. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Restoring Degraded Lands to Attain UN-SDGs)
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Open AccessEditor’s ChoiceOpinion
Lawns in Cities: From a Globalised Urban Green Space Phenomenon to Sustainable Nature-Based Solutions
Land 2020, 9(3), 73; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9030073 - 02 Mar 2020
Abstract
This opinion paper discusses urban lawns, the most common part of open green spaces and urban green infrastructures. It highlights both the ecosystem services and also disservices provided by urban lawns based on the authors’ experience of working within interdisciplinary research projects on [...] Read more.
This opinion paper discusses urban lawns, the most common part of open green spaces and urban green infrastructures. It highlights both the ecosystem services and also disservices provided by urban lawns based on the authors’ experience of working within interdisciplinary research projects on lawns in different cities of Europe (Germany, Sweden and Russia), New Zealand (Christchurch), USA (Syracuse, NY) and Australia (Perth). It complements this experience with a detailed literature review based on the most recent studies of different biophysical, social, planning and design aspects of lawns. We also used an international workshop as an important part of the research methodology. We argue that although lawns of Europe and the United States of America are now relatively well studied, other parts of the world still underestimate the importance of researching lawns as a complex ecological and social phenomenon. One of the core objectives of this paper is to share a paradigm of nature-based solutions in the context of lawns, which can be an important step towards finding resilient sustainable alternatives for urban green spaces in the time of growing urbanisation, increased urban land use competition, various user demands and related societal challenges of the urban environment. We hypothesise that these solutions may be found in urban ecosystems and various local native plant communities that are rich in species and able to withstand harsh conditions such as heavy trampling and droughts. To support the theoretical hypothesis of the relevance of nature-based solutions for lawns we also suggest and discuss the concept of two natures—different approaches to the vision of urban nature, including the understanding and appreciation of lawns. This will help to increase the awareness of existing local ecological approaches as well as an importance of introducing innovative landscape architecture practices. This article suggests that there is a potential for future transdisciplinary international research that might aid our understanding of lawns in different climatic and socio-cultural conditions as well as develop locally adapted (to environmental conditions, social needs and management policies) and accepted nature-based solutions. Full article
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