Editor's Choice Articles

Editor’s Choice articles are based on recommendations by the scientific editors of MDPI journals from around the world. Editors select a small number of articles recently published in the journal that they believe will be particularly interesting to authors, or important in this field. The aim is to provide a snapshot of some of the most exciting work published in the various research areas of the journal.

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Article
Multispectral Sentinel-2 and SAR Sentinel-1 Integration for Automatic Land Cover Classification
Land 2021, 10(6), 611; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060611 - 07 Jun 2021
Abstract
The study of land cover and land use dynamics are fundamental to understanding the radical changes that human activity is causing locally and globally and to analyse the continuous metamorphosis of landscape. In Europe, the Copernicus Program offers numerous territorial monitoring tools to [...] Read more.
The study of land cover and land use dynamics are fundamental to understanding the radical changes that human activity is causing locally and globally and to analyse the continuous metamorphosis of landscape. In Europe, the Copernicus Program offers numerous territorial monitoring tools to users and decision makers, such as Sentinel data. This research aims at developing and implementing a land cover mapping and change detection methodology through the classification of Copernicus Sentinel-1 and Sentinel-2 satellite data. The goal is to create a versatile and economically sustainable algorithm capable of rapidly processing large amounts of data, allowing the creation of national-scale products with high spatial resolution and update frequency for operational purposes. Great attention was paid to compatibility with the main activities planned in the near future at the national and European level. In this sense, a land cover classification system consistent with the European specifications of the EAGLE group has been adopted. The methodology involves the definition of distinct sets of decision rules for each of the land cover macro-classes and for the land cover change classes. The classification refers to pixels’ spectral and backscatter characteristics, exploiting the main multi-temporal indices while proposing two new ones: the NDCI to distinguish between broad-leaved and needle-leaved trees, and the Burned Index (BI) to identify burned areas. This activity allowed for the production of a land cover map for 2018 and the change detection related to forest disturbances and land consumption for 2017–2018, reaching an overall accuracy of 83%. Full article
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Article
Land Abandonment in Mountain Areas of the EU: An Inevitable Side Effect of Farming Modernization and Neglected Threat to Sustainable Land Use
Land 2021, 10(6), 591; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060591 - 03 Jun 2021
Abstract
In a period of rising concern for sustainable land management systems to achieve food security at a global scale, land-use changes demand increased attention. This study assesses the past observations and future risk calculations for land abandonment across European regions, highlighting the particular [...] Read more.
In a period of rising concern for sustainable land management systems to achieve food security at a global scale, land-use changes demand increased attention. This study assesses the past observations and future risk calculations for land abandonment across European regions, highlighting the particular risk for mountain areas. It draws from a study commissioned by the European Parliament to investigate the situation and probability for high and very high risk of land abandonment until 2030. Revealing that land abandonment is at three times higher risk in mountain areas than in non-mountain areas, the need for action to cope with this pressure is the core result. We reveal that the high disparity in agricultural competitiveness between regions (at fine geographical scale) is the main driving force leading to the spatially uneven performance of land management. Viewing this wide set of drivers and mitigation options, land abandonment is understood as the outcome of a multitude of factors of socio-ecological systems and a combination of farm-specific, internal regional and trans-regional factors. The present dominance of narratives of effectiveness leaves little scope for mountain regions under threat of abandonment and marginalization. In this situation, policy reform would address the issue but this might turn out to be influential only if the complex nature and trade-off of the comprehensive policy framework are prioritized. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Mountains under Pressure)
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Article
The Benefits of Fit-for-Purpose Land Administration for Urban Community Resilience in a Time of Climate Change and COVID-19 Pandemic
Land 2021, 10(6), 563; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060563 - 27 May 2021
Abstract
The major global pressures of rapid urbanization and urban growth are being compounded by climate impacts, resulting in increased vulnerability for urban dwellers, with these vulnerabilities exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of this is concentrated in urban and peri-urban areas where urban [...] Read more.
The major global pressures of rapid urbanization and urban growth are being compounded by climate impacts, resulting in increased vulnerability for urban dwellers, with these vulnerabilities exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Much of this is concentrated in urban and peri-urban areas where urban development spreads into hazard-prone areas. Often, this development is dominated by poor-quality homes in informal settlements or slums with poor tenure security. Lessons from a resilience-building project in the Pacific shows that a fit-for-purpose (FFP) approach to land administration can provide solutions by increasing the number of households with security of tenure, and consequently, improving resilience outcomes as informal settlements grow. This paper specifically discusses the influence of FFP land administration on reducing vulnerabilities to external shocks, such as climate change and COVID-19. It proposes ways to be better manage urban growth through the responsible governance of land tenure rights and more effective land-use planning to improve resilience to multiple shocks and stresses, hence, delivering improved access to safe land and shelter. Land administration systems can contribute to enhanced resilience to the shocks of climate extremes and pandemics by improving tenure security and enhancing land-use planning controls. It is argued that climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction need to be better mainstreamed into two major elements of land governance: (i) securing and safeguarding of land rights, and (ii) planning and control of land use. Full article
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Article
Plant Diversity in the Dynamic Mosaic Landscape of an Agricultural Heritage System: The Minabe-Tanabe Ume System
Land 2021, 10(6), 559; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060559 - 26 May 2021
Abstract
The Minabe-Tanabe Ume System in central Japan is defined as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. This study examined relationships between parcel-level plant diversity and land use, management, and development in traditional sloped Ume [...] Read more.
The Minabe-Tanabe Ume System in central Japan is defined as a Globally Important Agricultural Heritage System (GIAHS) by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. This study examined relationships between parcel-level plant diversity and land use, management, and development in traditional sloped Ume (Japanese apricot; Prunus mume) orchards and adjoining level orchards recently developed through large-scale cut-fill land development. We constructed and overlaid past (1974) and present (2015) digital land-use maps to assess land use and topography. We conducted field vegetation surveys in land parcels with different development and management histories. Although 249 ha (4.6% of the total 2015 area) were developed using cut-fill methods, 5148 ha remain a traditional orchard surrounded by coppice forests. Vegetation surveys and a two-way indicator species analysis revealed that traditional orchards had more native species and a higher plant diversity index. Cut-fill orchards contained a higher proportion of alien species; however, the degree depended on parcel history and management. Overall, this area remains a dynamic mosaic landscape containing a core of long-standing Ume orchards. We suggest that biodiversity conservation in this area should focus on conservation measures such as indirect land-use regulations, including some acceptable landform transformations, to promote continued farming of this ecologically important area. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Landscape Ecology)
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Article
Major United States Land Use as Influenced by an Altering Climate: A Spatial Econometric Approach
Land 2021, 10(5), 546; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10050546 - 20 May 2021
Abstract
Climate and socioeconomic and policy factors are found to stimulate land use changes along with changes in greenhouse gas emissions and adaption behaviors. Most of the studies investigating land use changes in the U.S. have not considered potential spatial effects explicitly. We used [...] Read more.
Climate and socioeconomic and policy factors are found to stimulate land use changes along with changes in greenhouse gas emissions and adaption behaviors. Most of the studies investigating land use changes in the U.S. have not considered potential spatial effects explicitly. We used a two-step linearized multinomial logit to examine the impacts of various factors on conterminous U.S. land use changes including spatial lag coefficients. The estimation results show that the spatial dependences have existed for cropland, pastureland, and grasslands with a negative dependence on forests but weakened in most of the land uses except for croplands. Temperature and precipitation were found to have nonlinear impacts on the land use shares in the succeeding years by exerting opposite effects on crop versus pasture/grass shares. We also predicted land use changes under different climate change scenarios. The simulation results imply that the southern regions of the U.S. would lose cropland shares with further severity under the business-as-usual climate scenarios, while the land use shares for pasture/grass and forest would increase in those regions. As land use plays an important role in the climate system and vice versa, the results from this study may help policymakers tackle climate-driven land use changes and farmers adapt to climate change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Agricultural Land Use, Economics and Climate Change)
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Article
Effects of Forestry Intensification and Conservation on Green Infrastructures: A Spatio-Temporal Evaluation in Sweden
Land 2021, 10(5), 531; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10050531 - 17 May 2021
Abstract
There is a rivalry between policies on intensification of forest management to meet the demands of a growing bioeconomy, and policies on green infrastructure functionality. Evaluation of the net effects of different policy instruments on real-world outcomes is crucial. First, we present data [...] Read more.
There is a rivalry between policies on intensification of forest management to meet the demands of a growing bioeconomy, and policies on green infrastructure functionality. Evaluation of the net effects of different policy instruments on real-world outcomes is crucial. First, we present data on final felling rates in wood production landscapes and stand age distribution dynamic in two case study regions, and changes in dead wood amounts in Sweden. Second, the growth of formally protected areas was compiled and changes in functional connectivity analysed in these regions, and the development of dead wood and green tree retention in Sweden was described. The case studies were the counties Dalarna and Jämtland (77,000 km2) representing an expanding frontier of boreal forest transformation. In the wood production landscape, official final felling rates averaged 0.84%/year, extending the regional timber frontier. The amount of forest <60 years old increased from 27–34% in 1955 to 60–65% in 2017. The amounts of dead wood, a key forest naturalness indicator, declined from 1994 to 2016 in north Sweden, and increased in the south, albeit both at levels far below evidence-based biodiversity targets. Formal forest protection grew rapidly in the two counties from 1968 to 2020 but reached only 4% of productive forests. From 2000 to 2019, habitat network functionality for old Scots pine declined by 15–41%, and Norway spruce by 15–88%. There were mixed trends for dead wood and tree retention at the stand scale. The net result of the continued transformation of near-natural forest remnants and conservation efforts was negative at the regional and landscape levels, but partly positive at the stand scale. However, at all three scales, habitat amounts were far below critical thresholds for the maintenance of viable populations of species, let alone ecological integrity. Collaboration among stakeholder categories should reject opinionated narratives, and instead rely on evidence-based knowledge about green infrastructure pressures, responses, and states. Full article
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Article
3D Property Research from a Legal Perspective Revisited
Land 2021, 10(5), 494; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10050494 - 07 May 2021
Abstract
The concept of 3D cadastre is widespread internationally and part of many nations’ legal infrastructure. Since the publication of a literature survey on 3D cadastre research by Paulsson and Paasch in 2013, there has been a considerable amount of research output and activities [...] Read more.
The concept of 3D cadastre is widespread internationally and part of many nations’ legal infrastructure. Since the publication of a literature survey on 3D cadastre research by Paulsson and Paasch in 2013, there has been a considerable amount of research output and activities in regard to 3D cadastre, which led us to believe that a new investigation of 3D cadastre publications could be of interest. The aim of this study is to analyze the development in 3D cadastre research during the years 2012–2020, focusing on the legal perspective of 3D property. A classification was made into main groups, legal, technical, registration and organizational, also investigating the occurrence of sub-themes such as visualization, BIM and standardization. The results of other literature studies on 3D cadastre research were compared with the outcome of this study. The number of identified publications during the analyzed years was 530. The study showed that the number of publications on legal topics has increased, but in relation to the other groups is still rather low. The 3D cadastre research community could benefit from the inclusion of the legal perspective in publications from other main groups, along with an increased focus on international comparative studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue 3D Cadastre)
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Article
Assessing Land Dynamics and Sustainability on the Pacific Coast of Nicaragua: A Method Based on Comprehensive Land Units
Land 2021, 10(5), 467; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10050467 - 30 Apr 2021
Abstract
In the coastal zones, varied uses converge, some of them of priority interest. In this study, an integrated method for the planning and management of the territory is proposed, which includes the evaluation of sustainability. A total of 15 different land-use classes were [...] Read more.
In the coastal zones, varied uses converge, some of them of priority interest. In this study, an integrated method for the planning and management of the territory is proposed, which includes the evaluation of sustainability. A total of 15 different land-use classes were estimated in 80 sampling units distributed regularly along the Pacific coastline of Nicaragua and classified to determine land management sectors. For each of the identified sectors, the ecological, economic, social, and productive dimensions were evaluated independently, handling a total of 53 variables from different databases, by means of ordination multivariate factor analysis. Subsequently, the four dimensions were integrated into a model and the results were evaluated based on their similarity with theoretical development scenarios, assessed by discriminant analysis. Among these, the scenarios considered as a goal for sustainability in the studied area were present. On the Pacific coast of Nicaragua, productive and economic activities are currently prioritized, without having an integrated planning scheme for the entire territory, which includes nature conservation. The main contribution has been to provide a method for evaluating the land in an integrative and multidimensional way, while at the same time qualifying the different territorial sectors from a sustainable development. Even under a context of relative scarcity of information for some relevant aspects, the dimension-values assessment is largely solved by ordering the territorial sectors with a multivariate strategy, so that they are classified in relative and not absolute terms, which allows the strategy to be very useful for countries lacking some databases and cartography. This holistic and comprehensive vision of the entire territory facilitates social participation and contributes to decision-making aimed at advancing toward sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Landscape Transformation and Changes in Land Use Intensity)
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Article
Forests to the Foreigners: Large-Scale Land Acquisitions in Gabon
Land 2021, 10(4), 420; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040420 - 15 Apr 2021
Abstract
For the past decade, the land rush discourse has analyzed foreign investment in land and agriculture around the world, with Africa being a continent of particular focus due to the scale of acquisitions that have taken place. Gabon, a largely forested state in [...] Read more.
For the past decade, the land rush discourse has analyzed foreign investment in land and agriculture around the world, with Africa being a continent of particular focus due to the scale of acquisitions that have taken place. Gabon, a largely forested state in Central Africa, has been neglected in the land rush conversations, despite having over half of its land allocated to forestry, agriculture, and mining concessions. This paper draws on existing evidence and contributes new empirical data through expert interviews to fill this critical knowledge gap. We situate Gabon’s historic relationship with land, establishing the intrinsic relationship between colonial land tenure systems and present-day land rights. Our findings analyze the macro context of investors and investments, as well as the impacts related to rural–urban linkages and infrastructure development into the forests, civil society, human–environment relationships, and certification programs. While challenges continue to be experienced, the promise of Gabon’s first national land use plan—the use of sustainable concessions and mandatory forestry certification—offers a unique opportunity for Gabon to transition towards a future that better benefits its population while also protecting its natural resources. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land Rush in Africa)
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Article
Linking Urban Tree Cover Change and Local History in a Post-Industrial City
Land 2021, 10(4), 403; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040403 - 12 Apr 2021
Abstract
Municipal leaders are pursuing ambitious goals to increase urban tree canopy (UTC), but there is little understanding of the pace and socioecological drivers of UTC change. We analyzed land cover change in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (United States) from 1970–2010 to examine the impacts of [...] Read more.
Municipal leaders are pursuing ambitious goals to increase urban tree canopy (UTC), but there is little understanding of the pace and socioecological drivers of UTC change. We analyzed land cover change in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (United States) from 1970–2010 to examine the impacts of post-industrial processes on UTC. We interpreted land cover classes using aerial imagery and assessed historical context using archival newspapers, agency reports, and local historical scholarship. There was a citywide UTC increase of +4.3 percentage points. Substantial UTC gains occurred in protected open spaces related to both purposeful planting and unintentional forest emergence due to lack of maintenance, with the latter phenomenon well-documented in other cities located in forested biomes. Compared to developed lands, UTC was more persistent in protected open spaces. Some neighborhoods experienced substantial UTC gains, including quasi-suburban areas and depopulated low-income communities; the latter also experienced decreasing building cover. We identified key processes that drove UTC increases, and which imposed legacies on current UTC patterns: urban renewal, urban greening initiatives, quasi-suburban developments, and (dis)investments in parks. Our study demonstrates the socioecological dynamism of intra-city land cover changes at multi-decadal time scales and the crucial role of local historical context in the interpretation of UTC change. Full article
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Article
Modeling Integrated Impacts of Climate Change and Grazing on Mongolia’s Rangelands
Land 2021, 10(4), 397; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040397 - 10 Apr 2021
Abstract
Mongolia contains some of the largest intact grasslands in the world, but is vulnerable to future changes in climate and continued increases in the number of domestic livestock. As these are two major drivers of change, it is important to understand interactions between [...] Read more.
Mongolia contains some of the largest intact grasslands in the world, but is vulnerable to future changes in climate and continued increases in the number of domestic livestock. As these are two major drivers of change, it is important to understand interactions between the impact of climate and grazing on productivity of Mongolia’s rangelands and the livelihoods they sustain. We use a gridded, spatially explicit model, the Rangeland Production Model (RPM), to explore the simultaneous and interacting effects of climate and management changes on Mongolia’s rangeland and future livestock production. Comparing the relative impact of temperature, precipitation, and grazing intensity, varied individually and in combination, we find that climatic factors dominate impacts on forage biomass and animal diet sufficiency. Site rainfall strongly mediates the impact of grazing on standing biomass, such that more productive or higher-rainfall sites are more vulnerable to increases in grazing pressure. Gridded simulations covering Mongolia’s Gobi-Steppe ecoregion show that while rangeland biomass is generally predicted to increase under future climate conditions, interactions among spatially varying drivers create strong heterogeneity in the magnitude of change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainable Rangeland Management to Protect Habitat and Livelihoods)
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Article
Remote Sensing Analysis to Quantify Change in Woodland Canopy Cover on the San Carlos Apache Reservation, Arizona, USA (1935 vs. 2017)
Land 2021, 10(4), 393; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040393 - 09 Apr 2021
Abstract
Since the late 1800s, pinyon–juniper woodland across the western U.S. has increased in density and areal extent and encroached into former grassland areas. The San Carlos Apache Tribe wants to gain qualitative and quantitative information on the historical conditions of their tribal woodlands [...] Read more.
Since the late 1800s, pinyon–juniper woodland across the western U.S. has increased in density and areal extent and encroached into former grassland areas. The San Carlos Apache Tribe wants to gain qualitative and quantitative information on the historical conditions of their tribal woodlands to use as a baseline for restoration efforts. At the San Carlos Apache Reservation, in east-central Arizona, large swaths of woodlands containing varying mixtures of juniper (Juniperus spp.), pinyon (Pinus spp.) and evergreen oak (Quercus spp.) are culturally important to the Tribe and are a focus for restoration. To determine changes in canopy cover, we developed image analysis techniques to monitor tree and large shrub cover using 1935 and 2017 aerial imagery and compared results over the 82-year interval. Results showed a substantial increase in the canopy cover of the former savannas, and encroachment (mostly juniper) into the former grasslands of Big Prairie. The Tribe is currently engaged in converting juniper woodland back into an open savanna, more characteristic of assumed pre-reservation conditions for that area. Our analysis shows areas on Bee Flat that, under the Tribe’s active restoration efforts, have returned woodland canopy cover to levels roughly analogous to that measured in 1935. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Landscape Ecology)
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Article
Exploring the Sensitivity of Recurrent Neural Network Models for Forecasting Land Cover Change
Land 2021, 10(3), 282; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10030282 - 10 Mar 2021
Abstract
Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs), including Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) architectures, have obtained successful outcomes in timeseries analysis tasks. While RNNs demonstrated favourable performance for Land Cover (LC) change analyses, few studies have explored or quantified the geospatial data characteristics required to utilize this [...] Read more.
Recurrent Neural Networks (RNNs), including Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM) architectures, have obtained successful outcomes in timeseries analysis tasks. While RNNs demonstrated favourable performance for Land Cover (LC) change analyses, few studies have explored or quantified the geospatial data characteristics required to utilize this method. Likewise, many studies utilize overall measures of accuracy rather than metrics accounting for the slow or sparse changes of LC that are typically observed. Therefore, the main objective of this study is to evaluate the performance of LSTM models for forecasting LC changes by conducting a sensitivity analysis involving hypothetical and real-world datasets. The intent of this assessment is to explore the implications of varying temporal resolutions and LC classes. Additionally, changing these input data characteristics impacts the number of timesteps and LC change rates provided to the respective models. Kappa variants are selected to explore the capacity of LSTM models for forecasting transitions or persistence of LC. Results demonstrate the adverse effects of coarser temporal resolutions and high LC class cardinality on method performance, despite method optimization techniques applied. This study suggests various characteristics of geospatial datasets that should be present before considering LSTM methods for LC change forecasting. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Deep Learning Algorithms for Land Use Change Detection)
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Article
Woodland Expansion in Upland National Parks: An Analysis of Stakeholder Views and Understanding in the Dartmoor National Park, UK
Land 2021, 10(3), 270; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10030270 - 06 Mar 2021
Abstract
Woodland expansion on a significant scale is widely seen to be critical if governments are to achieve their net zero greenhouse gas ambitions. The United Kingdom government is committed to expanding tree cover from 13% to at least 17% in order to achieve [...] Read more.
Woodland expansion on a significant scale is widely seen to be critical if governments are to achieve their net zero greenhouse gas ambitions. The United Kingdom government is committed to expanding tree cover from 13% to at least 17% in order to achieve net zero by 2050. With much lowland area under agricultural production, woodland expansion may be directed to upland areas, many of which are national parks under some degree of conservation jurisdiction. This may prove to be controversial, requiring full engagement with the interests of those individuals with a stake in their protection and management. In this paper, we explore how a range of stakeholders view the prospect of woodland expansion in Dartmoor National Park in southwest England, UK. Fifteen stakeholders—a mix of key informants and farmers—were shown different woodland expansion scenarios in map form and consulted using semi-structured interviews. The findings suggest widespread enthusiasm for woodland expansion, but with significant differences in terms of the scale and approach. Stakeholders raised topics of biodiversity gain, climate change mitigation, environmental benefits, cultural ecosystem gain, and forest crop benefits. Caution was expressed regarding target setting, the place of woodland expansion in the national debate, and the potential for harm from inappropriate new planting. The constraints identified were land tenure patterns, notably tenancy insecurity and ‘common land’ challenges, historical farming policy and culture, landscape objectives, and future policy design. Full article
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Article
Birds and Bioenergy within the Americas: A Cross-National, Social–Ecological Study of Ecosystem Service Tradeoffs
Land 2021, 10(3), 258; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10030258 - 03 Mar 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Although renewable energy holds great promise in mitigating climate change, there are socioeconomic and ecological tradeoffs related to each form of renewable energy. Forest-related bioenergy is especially controversial, because tree plantations often replace land that could be used to grow food crops and [...] Read more.
Although renewable energy holds great promise in mitigating climate change, there are socioeconomic and ecological tradeoffs related to each form of renewable energy. Forest-related bioenergy is especially controversial, because tree plantations often replace land that could be used to grow food crops and can have negative impacts on biodiversity. In this study, we examined public perceptions and ecosystem service tradeoffs between the provisioning services associated with cover types associated with bioenergy crop (feedstock) production and forest habitat-related supporting services for birds, which themselves provide cultural and regulating services. We combined a social survey-based assessment of local values and perceptions with measures of bioenergy feedstock production impacts on bird habitat in four countries: Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and the USA. Respondents in all countries rated birds as important or very important (83–99% of respondents) and showed lower enthusiasm for, but still supported, the expansion of bioenergy feedstocks (48–60% of respondents). Bioenergy feedstock cover types in Brazil and Argentina had the greatest negative impact on birds but had a positive impact on birds in the USA. In Brazil and Mexico, public perceptions aligned fairly well with the realities of the impacts of potential bioenergy feedstocks on bird communities. However, in Argentina and the USA, perceptions of bioenergy impacts on birds did not match well with the data. Understanding people’s values and perceptions can help inform better policy and management decisions regarding land use changes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Bioenergy and Land)
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Article
Assessment and Spatial Planning for Peatland Conservation and Restoration: Europe’s Trans-Border Neman River Basin as a Case Study
Land 2021, 10(2), 174; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10020174 - 08 Feb 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Peatlands are the “kidneys” of river basins. However, intensification of agriculture and forestry in Europe has resulted in the degradation of peatlands and their biodiversity (i.e., species, habitats and processes in ecosystems), thus impairing water retention, nutrient filtration, and carbon capture. Restoration of [...] Read more.
Peatlands are the “kidneys” of river basins. However, intensification of agriculture and forestry in Europe has resulted in the degradation of peatlands and their biodiversity (i.e., species, habitats and processes in ecosystems), thus impairing water retention, nutrient filtration, and carbon capture. Restoration of peatlands requires assessment of patterns and processes, and spatial planning. To support strategic planning of protection, management, and restoration of peatlands, we assessed the conservation status of three peatland types within the trans-border Neman River basin. First, we compiled a spatial peatland database for the two EU and two non-EU countries involved. Second, we performed quantitative and qualitative gap analyses of fens, transitional mires, and raised bogs at national and sub-basin levels. Third, we identified priority areas for local peatland restoration using a local hotspot analysis. Nationally, the gap analysis showed that the protection of peatlands meets the Convention of Biological Diversity’s quantitative target of 17%. However, qualitative targets like representation and peatland qualities were not met in some regional sub-basins. This stresses that restoration of peatlands, especially fens, is required. This study provides an assessment methodology to support sub-basin-level spatial conservation planning that considers both quantitative and qualitative peatland properties. Finally, we highlight the need for developing and validating evidence-based performance targets for peatland patterns and processes and call for peatland restoration guided by social-ecological research and inter-sectoral collaborative governance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Peatland Ecosystem)
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Article
Exploring the Challenges Posed by Regulations for the Use of Drones in Agriculture in the African Context
Land 2021, 10(2), 164; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10020164 - 06 Feb 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
Global food demands have led to the rapid introduction of Information Communication Technology (ICT) innovations in the agriculture sector—one such innovation is drone technology. Drones are used in precision agriculture, including aerial observation, sensing, and the spraying of pesticides. Regulations on the use [...] Read more.
Global food demands have led to the rapid introduction of Information Communication Technology (ICT) innovations in the agriculture sector—one such innovation is drone technology. Drones are used in precision agriculture, including aerial observation, sensing, and the spraying of pesticides. Regulations on the use of drones are necessary because drones can violate privacy rules, data protection rights, and public peace. However, many African countries have either very restrictive regulations, or no proper regulation in place, making the process of acquiring a license for drone operation cumbersome. In this study, we present the results of a literature review that explores the current drone regulations in Sub-Saharan Africa and the results of a systematic literature review (SLR) and survey study whereby we have interviewed the relevant stakeholders, in order to understand the challenges posed by the regulations to the effective use of drones for agriculture. The results indicate that the regulations contain about 40 to 85 per cent of the provisions of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) manual on Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPASs). In addition, whilst the SLR focused on the technology, safety, ethics and regulatory hurdles towards drones, the interviewees focused on the need for skill and awareness among the responsible authorities to enforce regulations, and the need for sustainability and participatory process in defining regulations. Full article
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Article
Seasonal and Interannual Ground-Surface Displacement in Intact and Disturbed Tundra along the Dalton Highway on the North Slope, Alaska
Land 2021, 10(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010022 - 29 Dec 2020
Abstract
Spatiotemporal variation in ground-surface displacement caused by ground freeze–thaw and thermokarst is critical information to understand changes in the permafrost ecosystem. Measurement of ground displacement, especially in the disturbed ground underlain by ice-rich permafrost, is important to estimate the rate of permafrost and [...] Read more.
Spatiotemporal variation in ground-surface displacement caused by ground freeze–thaw and thermokarst is critical information to understand changes in the permafrost ecosystem. Measurement of ground displacement, especially in the disturbed ground underlain by ice-rich permafrost, is important to estimate the rate of permafrost and carbon loss. We conducted high-precision global navigation satellite system (GNSS) positioning surveys to measure the surface displacements of tundra in northern Alaska, together with maximum thaw depth (TD) and surface moisture measurements from 2017 to 2019. The measurements were performed along two to three 60–200 m transects per site with 1–5 m intervals at the three areas. The average seasonal thaw settlement (STS) at intact tundra sites ranged 5.8–14.3 cm with a standard deviation range of 2.1–3.3 cm. At the disturbed locations, averages and variations in STS and the maximum thaw depth were largest in all observed years and among all sites. The largest seasonal and interannual subsidence (44 and 56 cm/year, respectively) were recorded at points near troughs of degraded ice-wedge polygons or thermokarst lakes. Weak or moderate correlation between STS and TD found at the intact sites became obscure as the thermokarst disturbance progressed, leading to higher uncertainty in the prediction of TD from STS. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Permafrost Landscape)
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Article
Landscape-Based Visions as Powerful Boundary Objects in Spatial Planning: Lessons from Three Dutch Projects
Land 2021, 10(1), 16; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010016 - 28 Dec 2020
Abstract
In a context of a rapidly changing livability of towns and countryside, climate change and biodiversity decrease, this paper introduces a landscape-based planning approach to regional spatial policy challenges allowing a regime shift towards a future land system resilient to external pressures. The [...] Read more.
In a context of a rapidly changing livability of towns and countryside, climate change and biodiversity decrease, this paper introduces a landscape-based planning approach to regional spatial policy challenges allowing a regime shift towards a future land system resilient to external pressures. The concept of nature-based solutions and transition theory are combined in this approach, in which co-created normative future visions serve as boundary concepts. Rather than as an object in itself, the landscape is considered as a comprehensive principle, to which all spatial processes are inherently related. We illustrate this approach with three projects in the Netherlands in which landscape-based visions were used to guide the land transition, going beyond the traditional nature-based solutions. The projects studied show that a shared long-term future landscape vision is a powerful boundary concept and a crucial source of inspiration for a coherent design approach to solve today’s spatial planning problems. Further, they show that cherishing abiotic differences in the landscape enhances sustainable and resilient landscapes, that co-creation in the social network is a prerequisite for shared solutions, and that a landscape-based approach enhances future-proof land-use transitions to adaptive, circular, and biodiverse landscapes. Full article
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Article
Cultural Ecosystem Services in the Natura 2000 Network: Introducing Proxy Indicators and Conflict Risk in Greece
Land 2021, 10(1), 4; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010004 - 23 Dec 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Within the ecosystem services framework, cultural ecosystem services (CES) have rarely been applied in state-wide surveys of protected area networks. Through a review of available data and online research, we present 22 potential proxy indicators of non-material benefits people may obtain from nature [...] Read more.
Within the ecosystem services framework, cultural ecosystem services (CES) have rarely been applied in state-wide surveys of protected area networks. Through a review of available data and online research, we present 22 potential proxy indicators of non-material benefits people may obtain from nature in Natura sites in Greece. Despite the limitations due to data scarcity, this first distance-based study screens a recently expanded protected area system (446 Natura sites) providing steps towards an initial CES capacity review, site prioritization and data gap screening. Results identify hot spot Natura sites for CES values and wider areas of importance for the supply of CES. Additionally, a risk analysis mapping exercise explores the potential risk of conflict in the Natura sites, due to proposed wind farm developments. Α number of sites that may suffer serious degradation of CES values due to the large number of proposed wind turbines within these protected areas is identified, with 26% of Greece’s Natura sites showing serious and high risk of degradation of their aesthetic values. Screening-level survey exercises such as these may play an important role in advancing conservation effectiveness by increasing the appreciation of the multiple benefits provided by Natura protected areas. Based on this review, we propose recommendations through an adaptive approach to CES inventory and research initiatives in the protected area network. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Landscape Ecology)
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Article
Strategies for the Management of Traditional Chestnut Landscapes in Pesio Valley, Italy: A Participatory Approach
Land 2020, 9(12), 536; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9120536 - 21 Dec 2020
Abstract
Through an exploratory case study conducted in the Pesio Valley, northwest Italy, this paper proposes a framework for maintaining traditional chestnut production landscapes and addressing future development policies. The main goal was to understand how to promote a bottom-up planning approach, including stakeholder [...] Read more.
Through an exploratory case study conducted in the Pesio Valley, northwest Italy, this paper proposes a framework for maintaining traditional chestnut production landscapes and addressing future development policies. The main goal was to understand how to promote a bottom-up planning approach, including stakeholder perceptions in traditional chestnut landscape management. To ensure the sustainability of the landscape, current driving forces and their landscape effects were identified by local stakeholders using a focus group technique. Population ageing, local forestry policies directed towards supporting chestnut growers’ income, social and economic needs, and land fragmentation are the main driving forces that will influence future chestnut landscapes. The focus group participants built two scenarios of possible future development of the chestnut landscape, one characterized by the disappearance and transformation of chestnut stands, the other by their permanence and maintenance. The most recommended strategies for maintaining traditional chestnut cultivation were chestnut processing, fruit designation of origin, and the cultivation of traditional varieties. This study shows that, to preserve the traditional chestnut landscape, the participation of multiple stakeholders is a useful approach in landscape planning. This methodology could guide decision-makers and planners who desire to implement a participatory approach to a sustainable development program for traditional chestnut landscapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cultural Landscapes)
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Article
Ejidos, Urbanization, and the Production of Inequality in Formerly Agricultural Lands, Guadalajara, Mexico, 1975–2020
Land 2020, 9(12), 526; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9120526 - 16 Dec 2020
Abstract
The ejido is an institution of communal land tenure and governance administered by the Mexican government. This paper assesses the current visual appearance of landscapes and implicit land use in ejidal lands on the periphery of Guadalajara, Mexico, using Google Street View (GSV) [...] Read more.
The ejido is an institution of communal land tenure and governance administered by the Mexican government. This paper assesses the current visual appearance of landscapes and implicit land use in ejidal lands on the periphery of Guadalajara, Mexico, using Google Street View (GSV) images tagged for signs of urban distress. Distressed landscapes are associated with the temporal process of urban expansion—newer settlements tend to be more visibly impoverished. Concentrations of vulnerable housing are correlated with encroached-upon ejidal lands in a process that was underway by the 1970s, well before Mexico’s neoliberal turn. Ejidos on the urban periphery, created to support agricultural communities during Mexico’s radical period of agrarian reform, are now sites of urban sprawl and impoverishment. Nevertheless, these communities remain legally salient as federal entities with respect to the disposition of land. Their presence complicates the historical evolution of land use in the urban periphery in ways that do not fit into classical central place models. We conclude that the presence of ejidos is associated with rapid and chaotic urbanization by migrants and the loss of agricultural capacity in Guadalajara’s periphery. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Urban Contexts and Urban-Rural Interactions)
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Article
Physical Crust Formation on Sandy Soils and Their Potential to Reduce Dust Emissions from Croplands
Land 2020, 9(12), 503; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9120503 - 08 Dec 2020
Abstract
The sandy croplands in the Free State have been identified as one of the main dust sources in South Africa. The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence and strength of physical soil crusts on cropland soils in the Free State, [...] Read more.
The sandy croplands in the Free State have been identified as one of the main dust sources in South Africa. The aim of this study was to investigate the occurrence and strength of physical soil crusts on cropland soils in the Free State, to identify the rainfall required to form a stable crust, and to test their impact on dust emissions. Crust strength was measured using a fall cone penetrometer and a torvane, while laboratory rainfall simulations were used to form experimental crusts. Dust emissions were measured with a Portable In-Situ Wind Erosion Laboratory (PI-SWERL). The laboratory rainfall simulations showed that stable crusts could be formed by 15 mm of rainfall. The PI-SWERL experiments illustrated that the PM10 emission flux of such crusts is between 0.14% and 0.26% of that of a non-crusted Luvisol and Arenosol, respectively. The presence of abraders on the crust can increase the emissions up to 4% and 8% of the non-crusted dust flux. Overall, our study shows that crusts in the field are potentially strong enough to protect the soil surfaces against wind erosion during a phase of the cropping cycle when the soil surface is not protected by plants. Full article
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Article
Land Reform in the Era of Global Warming—Can Land Reforms Help Agriculture Be Climate-Smart?
Land 2020, 9(12), 471; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9120471 - 24 Nov 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
In an era of global warming, long-standing challenges for rural populations, including land inequality, poverty and food insecurity, risk being exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Innovative and effective approaches, such as Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), are required to alleviate these environmental [...] Read more.
In an era of global warming, long-standing challenges for rural populations, including land inequality, poverty and food insecurity, risk being exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Innovative and effective approaches, such as Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA), are required to alleviate these environmental pressures without hampering efficiency. In countries with unequal distribution of land, where issues of access to and use of land rank high on the policy agenda, policymakers are confronted with the challenge of implementing interventions such as land reforms, whilst endeavouring to ensure that sustainable agriculture approaches be adopted by farm-households. The aim of this study is to investigate how land reforms can provide an opportunity for policymakers, particularly in lower-income countries, to enhance not only equity and efficiency but also environmental sustainability. In particular, this study builds on an extensive review of the theoretical and empirical literature and employs a conceptual framework analysis method to develop and describe a framework that explores how land reforms can be associated with the CSA approach. The resultant “Climate Smart Land Reform” (CSLR) framework contains four driving pillars, namely land redistribution, tenure reform, rural advisory services and markets and infrastructure. The framework disentangles relevant channels through which land reform, via its four pillars, can foster CSA adoption and thus contribute to the attainment of sustainable increases in agricultural productivity, climate change adaptation and climate change mitigation. The framework also includes relevant channels through which more ‘traditional’ objectives of land reformers, including economic, social and political objectives, can be achieved. In turn, the (partial) attainment of such objectives would lead to improvements in agroecological and socioeconomic conditions of rural areas and populations. These improvements are considered within the framework as the ‘ultimate’ objective of land reformers. The CSLR framework represents an innovative way of conceptualising how land reforms can generate beneficial effects not only in terms of equity and efficiency but also of environmental sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Climate-Smart Agriculture and Rural Sustainability)
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Article
A Transparent and Intuitive Modeling Framework and Software for Efficient Land Allocation
Land 2020, 9(11), 444; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9110444 - 14 Nov 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The purpose of this research is to better conserve biodiversity by improving land allocation modeling software. Here we introduce a planning support framework designed to be understood by and useful to land managers, stakeholders, and other decision-makers. With understanding comes trust and engagement, [...] Read more.
The purpose of this research is to better conserve biodiversity by improving land allocation modeling software. Here we introduce a planning support framework designed to be understood by and useful to land managers, stakeholders, and other decision-makers. With understanding comes trust and engagement, which often yield better implementation of model results. To do this, we break from traditional software such as Zonation and Marxan with Zones to prototype software that instead first asks the project team and stakeholders to make a straightforward multi-criteria decision tree used for traditional site evaluation analyses. The results can be used as is or fed into an algorithm for identifying a land allocation solution that is efficient in meeting several objectives including maximizing habitat representation, connectivity, and adjacency at a set cost budget. We tested the framework in five pilot regions and share the lessons learned from each, with a detailed description and evaluation of the fifth (in the central Sierra Nevada mountains of California) where the software effectively met the multiple objectives, for multiple zones (Restoration, Innovation, and Observation Zones). The framework is sufficiently general that it can be applied to a wide range of land use planning efforts. Full article
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Article
Forest Area Change in the Shifting Landscape Mosaic of the Continental United States from 2001 to 2016
Land 2020, 9(11), 417; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9110417 - 29 Oct 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
The landscape context (i.e., anthropogenic setting) of forest change partly determines the social-ecological outcomes of the change. Furthermore, forest change occurs within, is constrained by, and contributes to a dynamic landscape context. We illustrate how information about local landscape context can be incorporated [...] Read more.
The landscape context (i.e., anthropogenic setting) of forest change partly determines the social-ecological outcomes of the change. Furthermore, forest change occurs within, is constrained by, and contributes to a dynamic landscape context. We illustrate how information about local landscape context can be incorporated into regional assessments of forest area change. We examined the status and change of forest area in the continental United States from 2001 to 2016, quantifying landscape context by using a landscape mosaic classification that describes the dominance and interface (i.e., juxtaposition) of developed and agriculture land in relation to forest and other land. The mosaic class changed for five percent of total land area and three percent of total forest area. The least stable classes were those comprising the developed interface. Forest loss rates were highest in developed-dominated landscapes, but the forest area in those landscapes increased by 18 percent as the expansion of developed landscapes assimilated more forest area than was lost from earlier developed landscapes. Conversely, forest loss rates were lowest in agriculture-dominated landscapes where there was a net loss of five percent of forest area, even as the area of those landscapes also increased. Exposure of all land to nearby forest removal, fire, and stress was highest in natural-dominated landscapes, while exposure to nearby increases in developed and agriculture land was highest in developed- and agriculture-dominated landscapes. We discuss applications of our approach for mapping, monitoring, and modeling landscape and land use change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land Change Modelling)
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Article
Differences in the Soil Quality Index for Two Contrasting Mediterranean Landscapes in Southern Spain
Land 2020, 9(11), 405; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9110405 - 24 Oct 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Soil quality indexes (SQIs) are very useful in assessing the status and edaphic health of soils. This is particularly the case in the Mediterranean area, where successive torrential rainfall episodes give rise to erosion and soil degradation processes; these are being exacerbated by [...] Read more.
Soil quality indexes (SQIs) are very useful in assessing the status and edaphic health of soils. This is particularly the case in the Mediterranean area, where successive torrential rainfall episodes give rise to erosion and soil degradation processes; these are being exacerbated by the current climate crisis. The objective of this study was to analyze the soil quality in two contrasting Mediterranean watersheds in the province of Malaga (Spain): the middle and upper watersheds of the Rio Grande (sub-humid conditions) and the Benamargosa River (semi-arid conditions). Field soil sampling was carried out at representative sites, and the soils were subsequently analyzed for various edaphic properties in the laboratory. From the resulting data, the mean values have been grouped and reclassified, and, based on a multicriteria evaluation, an SQI for the study region was generated. The results show that there are major differences between the two watersheds, with optimal soil quality values being found in the Rio Grande watershed (very high soil quality—34.26%), but more unfavorable values occurring throughout most of the Benamargosa River watershed (very low soil quality—63.33%). Thus, these results have been subjected to a validation process in the field. Full article
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Article
Four Decades of Land-Cover Change on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska: Detecting Disturbance-Influenced Vegetation Shifts Using Landsat Legacy Data
Land 2020, 9(10), 382; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9100382 - 09 Oct 2020
Abstract
Across Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, disturbance events have removed large areas of forest over the last half century. Simultaneously, succession and landscape evolution have facilitated forest regrowth and expansion. Detecting forest loss within known pulse disturbance events is often straightforward given that reduction in [...] Read more.
Across Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula, disturbance events have removed large areas of forest over the last half century. Simultaneously, succession and landscape evolution have facilitated forest regrowth and expansion. Detecting forest loss within known pulse disturbance events is often straightforward given that reduction in tree cover is a readily detectable and measurable land-cover change. Land-cover change is more difficult to quantify when disturbance events are unknown, remote, or environmental response is slow in relation to human observation. While disturbance events and related land-cover change are relatively instant, assessing patterns of post-disturbance succession requires long term monitoring. Here, we describe a method for classifying land cover and quantifying land-cover change over time, using Landsat legacy imagery for three historical eras on the western Kenai Peninsula: 1973–2002, 2002–2017, and 1973–2017. Scenes from numerous Landsat sensors, including summer and winter seasons, were acquired between 1973 and 2017 and used to classify vegetation cover using a random forest classifier. Land-cover type was summarized by era and combined to produce a dataset capturing spatially explicit land-cover change at a moderate 30-m resolution. Our results document large-scale forest loss across the study area that can be attributed to known disturbance events including beetle kill and wildfire. Despite numerous and extensive disturbances resulting in forest loss, we estimate that the study area has experienced net forest gain over the duration of our study period due to reforestation within large fire events that predate this study. Transition between forest and graminoid non-forest land cover including wetlands and herbaceous uplands is the most common land-cover change—representing recruitment of a graminoid dominated understory following forest loss and the return of forest canopy given sufficient time post-disturbance. Full article
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Article
Aboveground Biomass Distribution in a Multi-Use Savannah Landscape in Southeastern Kenya: Impact of Land Use and Fences
Land 2020, 9(10), 381; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9100381 - 09 Oct 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Savannahs provide valuable ecosystem services and contribute to continental and global carbon budgets. In addition, savannahs exhibit multiple land uses, e.g., wildlife conservation, pastoralism, and crop farming. Despite their importance, the effect of land use on woody aboveground biomass (AGB) in savannahs is [...] Read more.
Savannahs provide valuable ecosystem services and contribute to continental and global carbon budgets. In addition, savannahs exhibit multiple land uses, e.g., wildlife conservation, pastoralism, and crop farming. Despite their importance, the effect of land use on woody aboveground biomass (AGB) in savannahs is understudied. Furthermore, fences used to reduce human–wildlife conflicts may affect AGB patterns. We assessed AGB densities and patterns, and the effect of land use and fences on AGB in a multi-use savannah landscape in southeastern Kenya. AGB was assessed with field survey and airborne laser scanning (ALS) data, and a land cover map was developed using Sentinel-2 satellite images in Google Earth Engine. The highest woody AGB was found in riverine forest in a conservation area and in bushland outside the conservation area. The highest mean AGB density occurred in the non-conservation area with mixed bushland and cropland (8.9 Mg·ha−1), while the lowest AGB density (2.6 Mg·ha−1) occurred in overgrazed grassland in the conservation area. The largest differences in AGB distributions were observed in the fenced boundaries between the conservation and other land-use types. Our results provide evidence that conservation and fences can create sharp AGB transitions and lead to reduced AGB stocks, which is a vital role of savannahs as part of carbon sequestration. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land Use and Land Cover Mapping in a Changing World)
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Article
Predicted Maps for Soil Organic Matter Evaluation: The Case of Abruzzo Region (Italy)
Land 2020, 9(10), 349; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9100349 - 24 Sep 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Organic matter, an important component of healthy soils, may be used as an indicator in sustainability assessments. Managing soil carbon storage can foster agricultural productivity and environmental quality, reducing the severity and costs of natural phenomena. Thus, accurately estimating the spatial variability of [...] Read more.
Organic matter, an important component of healthy soils, may be used as an indicator in sustainability assessments. Managing soil carbon storage can foster agricultural productivity and environmental quality, reducing the severity and costs of natural phenomena. Thus, accurately estimating the spatial variability of soil organic matter (SOM) is crucial for sustainable soil management when planning agro-environmental measures at the regional level. SOM variability is very large in Italy, and soil organic carbon (SOC) surveys considering such variability are difficult and onerous. The study concerns the Abruzzo Region (about 10,800 km2), in Central Italy, where data from 1753 soil profiles were available, together with a Digital Elevation Model (DEM) and Landsat images. Some morphometric parameters and spectral indices with a significant degree of correlation with measured data were used as predictors for regression-kriging (RK) application. Estimated map of SOC stocks, and of SOM related to USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) texture—an additional indicator of soil quality—were produced with a satisfactory level of accuracy. Results showed that SOC stocks and SOM concentrations in relation to texture were lower in the hilly area along the shoreline, pointing out the need to improve soil management to guarantee agricultural land sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Soil Management for Sustainability)
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Article
Planning for Dynamic Connectivity: Operationalizing Robust Decision-Making and Prioritization Across Landscapes Experiencing Climate and Land-Use Change
Land 2020, 9(10), 341; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9100341 - 23 Sep 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
Preserving landscape connectivity is one of the most frequently recommended strategies to address the synergistic threats of climate change, habitat fragmentation, and intensifying disturbances. Although assessments to develop plans for linked and connected landscapes in response to climate and land-use change have been [...] Read more.
Preserving landscape connectivity is one of the most frequently recommended strategies to address the synergistic threats of climate change, habitat fragmentation, and intensifying disturbances. Although assessments to develop plans for linked and connected landscapes in response to climate and land-use change have been increasingly employed in the last decade, efforts to operationalize and implement these plans have been limited. Here, we present a framework using existing, available biological data to design an implementable, comprehensive multispecies connectivity plan. This framework uses a scenario-based approach to consider how ecosystems, habitats, and species may need to adapt to future conditions with an ensemble of connectivity models. We use the south coast ecoregion of California as an example to evaluate and prioritize linkages by combining linked metapopulation models and key landscape features (e.g., conservation planning status and implementation feasibility) to identify and prioritize a multispecies linkage network. Our analyses identified approximately 30,000 km2 of land, roughly one-fifth of our study area, where actions to preserve or enhance connectivity may support climate adaptation, nearly half of which is already conserved. By developing and implementing a dynamic connectivity assessment with an eye towards projected changes, our analysis demonstrates how dynamic connectivity can be integrated into feasible regional conservation and management plans that account for demographic as well as landscape change. We observed overlap across multiple models, reinforcing the importance of areas that appeared across methods. We also identified unique areas important for connectivity captured by our complementary models. By integrating multiple approaches, the resultant linkage network is robust, building on the strengths of a variety of methods to identify model consensus and reduce uncertainty. By linking quantitative connectivity metrics with prioritized areas for conservation, our approach supports transparent and robust decision-making for landscape planning, despite uncertainties of climate and land-use change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dynamic Landscape Connectivity)
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Article
Local Perceptions of Ecosystem Services Across Multiple Ecosystem Types in Spain
Land 2020, 9(9), 330; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9090330 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Combining socio-cultural valuations of ecosystem services with ecological and monetary assessments is critical to informing decision making with an integrative and multi-pronged approach. This study examined differences in the perceptions of ecosystem service supply and diversity across eight major ecosystem types in Spain [...] Read more.
Combining socio-cultural valuations of ecosystem services with ecological and monetary assessments is critical to informing decision making with an integrative and multi-pronged approach. This study examined differences in the perceptions of ecosystem service supply and diversity across eight major ecosystem types in Spain and scrutinized the social and ecological factors shaping these perceptions. First, we implemented 1932 face-to-face questionnaires among local inhabitants to assess perceptions of ecosystem service supply. Second, we created an ecosystem service diversity index to measure the perceived diversity of services considering agroecosystems, Mediterranean mountains, arid systems, two aquatic continental systems, coastal ecosystems and two urban ecosystems. Finally, we examined the influence of biophysical, socio-demographic and institutional factors in shaping ecosystem service perceptions. Overall, cultural services were the most widely perceived, followed by provisioning and regulating services. Provisioning services were most strongly associated with agroecosystems, mountains and coastal systems, whereas cultural services were associated with urban ecosystems and regulating services were specifically linked with agroecosystems, mountains and urban recreational areas. The highest service diversity index values corresponded to agroecosystems, mountains and wetlands. Our results also showed that socio-demographic factors, such as place of origin (urban vs. rural) and educational level, as well as institutional factors, such as management and access regimes, shaped the perception of ecosystem services. Full article
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Article
Effects of Urbanization on Farmland Size and Diversified Farm Activities in Japan: An Analysis Based on the Land Parcel Database
Land 2020, 9(9), 315; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9090315 - 04 Sep 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Peri-urban agriculture (PUA) has been widely regarded as a sub-field of multifunctional agriculture for improving the sustainability of urban environments. However, urban sprawl has both negative and positive effects on peri-urban farming, and the research on this issue in Japan is insufficient. This [...] Read more.
Peri-urban agriculture (PUA) has been widely regarded as a sub-field of multifunctional agriculture for improving the sustainability of urban environments. However, urban sprawl has both negative and positive effects on peri-urban farming, and the research on this issue in Japan is insufficient. This study aims to demonstrate the spatial distribution of farmland parcels in Tokyo and Osaka metropolitan areas and explore the synergistic effect of distance from cities and urban sprawl on the size of farmland parcels and farm-diversified activities such as direct marketing, farming experience, and environmentally friendly practices. Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) and Poisson regression analyses were used with a nationwide agricultural land parcel Geographic Information System (GIS) database (Tokyo metropolitan area = 1,939,162 and Osaka metropolitan area = 1,507,072 parcels), in Japan, to specify the farmland locations and calculate the extent of urban sprawl. The results revealed that more than 50% of farmlands in the targeted areas were located within 4 km from the boundaries of densely inhabited districts (DIDs). Furthermore, with a decreasing distance from a DID, the urban sprawl had more positive effects on farmland parcel sizes and farm-diversified activities. These findings imply that PUA has a wider presence in Japan, and the peri-urban farmers may be capable of utilizing the multifunctional nature of intensively sprawled urban environments. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability and Peri-Urban Agriculture)
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Article
Beyond Calendars and Maps: Rethinking Time and Space for Effective Knowledge Governance in Protected Areas
Land 2020, 9(9), 293; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9090293 - 25 Aug 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Protected area managers rely on relevant, credible, and legitimate knowledge. However, an increase in the rate, extent, severity, and magnitude of the impacts of drivers of change (e.g., climate change, altered land use, and demand for natural resources) is affecting the response capacity [...] Read more.
Protected area managers rely on relevant, credible, and legitimate knowledge. However, an increase in the rate, extent, severity, and magnitude of the impacts of drivers of change (e.g., climate change, altered land use, and demand for natural resources) is affecting the response capacity of managers and their agencies. We address temporal aspects of knowledge governance by exploring time-related characteristics of information and decision-making processes in protected areas. These areas represent artefacts where the past (e.g., geological periods and evolutionary processes), the present (e.g., biodiversity richness), and the future (e.g., protection of ecosystem services for future generations) are intimately connected and integrated. However, temporal horizons linked with spatial scales are often neglected or misinterpreted in environmental management plans and monitoring programs. In this paper, we present a framework to address multi-dimensional understandings of knowledge-based processes for managing protected areas to guide researchers, managers, and practitioners to consider temporal horizons, spatial scales, different knowledge systems, and future decisions. We propose that dealing with uncertain futures starts with understanding the knowledge governance context that shapes decision-making processes, explicitly embracing temporal dimensions of information in decision-making at different scales. We present examples from South Africa and Colombia to illustrate the concepts. This framework can help to enable a reflexive practice, identify pathways or transitions to enable actions and connect knowledge for effective conservation of protected areas. Full article
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Unraveling Misunderstandings about Desertification: The Paradoxical Case of the Tabernas-Sorbas Basin in Southeast Spain
Land 2020, 9(8), 269; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9080269 - 11 Aug 2020
Cited by 4
Abstract
From its origins, the concept of desertification has been controversial. The prevailing confusion between two desertification visions, one that considers it as the expansion of deserts and another that emphasizes its anthropogenic component, has been transferred to society. Here we illustrate misunderstandings about [...] Read more.
From its origins, the concept of desertification has been controversial. The prevailing confusion between two desertification visions, one that considers it as the expansion of deserts and another that emphasizes its anthropogenic component, has been transferred to society. Here we illustrate misunderstandings about desertification using a very illustrative case from the Tabernas-Sorbas Basin (Almeria, Spain), where striking badlands that are often used as an image of desertification coexist with an intensive olive agriculture that is irreversibly deteriorating the only oasis in continental Europe (Los Molinos spring). The olive tree is a traditional Mediterranean dryland crop and until the 1950s only about 200 ha were irrigated in this area. However, the profitability of the crop has caused irrigation to expand to 4400 ha in the last two decades. The process of intensification has been reinforced giving way to super-intensive irrigation, which involves going from 210 to 1550 trees/ha, which in a few years already occupies more than 1500 ha. The effects on the water balance of the aquifer feeding these crops have been severe, and the flow of the Los Molinos spring has gone from more than 40 L/s for the period 1970–2000 to the current 7.28 L/s. Unraveling the mechanisms of land degradation and its main drivers are the first step to propose management actions to achieve a more sustainable use of resources and to combat desertification. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Landscape Transformation and Changes in Land Use Intensity)
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Article
30 Years of Land Cover Change in Connecticut, USA: A Case Study of Long-Term Research, Dissemination of Results, and Their Use in Land Use Planning and Natural Resource Conservation
Land 2020, 9(8), 255; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9080255 - 31 Jul 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Remotely sensed land cover data can be a tremendous resource to land use decision makers, yet there is often a disconnect between the worlds of remote sensing and local government. The Connecticut’s Changing Landscape project is focused on bridging this gap. The project [...] Read more.
Remotely sensed land cover data can be a tremendous resource to land use decision makers, yet there is often a disconnect between the worlds of remote sensing and local government. The Connecticut’s Changing Landscape project is focused on bridging this gap. The project analyzes changes to the state’s landscape using Landsat-derived 30-m land cover and cross-correlation analysis. It includes seven dates spanning 30 years, from 1985 to 2015. During this period an additional 4.7 percent of the state was converted to development-related land covers, with corresponding losses to forest and agricultural land. New development was for the most part in attenuated patterns rather than concentrated near existing developed areas. Additional land cover analyses were conducted of agricultural areas, riparian corridors, core forest, and watershed imperviousness, to more closely examine issues of sustainability. Particular care is taken to make research findings accessible, understandable, and usable for the public through traditional outreach methods, and increasingly through internet mapping technology. As a result, the project has become a widely used resource informing the work of state, regional and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and researchers. A more concerted effort to integrate research and outreach is needed to ensure that land cover research has an impact on issues of land use and sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Monitoring Land Cover Change: Towards Sustainability)
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Article
Challenges of Food Waste Governance: An Assessment of European Legislation on Food Waste and Recommendations for Improvement by Economic Instruments
Land 2020, 9(7), 231; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9070231 - 16 Jul 2020
Cited by 8
Abstract
Food is wasted throughout the entire food supply chain—from agricultural production to the household level. This has negative impacts on natural resources and the environment. At the same time, food waste is undermining the global target of food security. In turn, reducing food [...] Read more.
Food is wasted throughout the entire food supply chain—from agricultural production to the household level. This has negative impacts on natural resources and the environment. At the same time, food waste is undermining the global target of food security. In turn, reducing food waste can minimise the environmental effects of agriculture on climate, biodiversity, soils, water bodies and the atmosphere. All of this is reflected in the fact that food waste is subject to various legal acts of the European Union and that it is also a major subject in the new EU Farm to Fork Strategy from May 2020. Supported by an analysis of the diffuse empirical data on food waste, the purpose of this article is to analyse the current EU legislation on food waste and its reduction to answer the following research questions: How is food waste integrated into European policies? What is the impact of European legislation on food waste? Is European legislation sufficient to trigger not only food waste reduction but also comprehensive changes in the agricultural and food sector to support global climate and environmental targets as set in the Paris Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity? Which instruments are the most suitable to do so? Methodologically, a qualitative governance analysis is applied. It is found that relevant legal acts for governing food waste include circular economy and waste law, the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy as well as food law, while international environmental targets serve as an overarching measure for governance analysis. The legal analysis shows that existing legislation lacks steering effect to significantly reduce food waste. To overcome current governance problems, the article introduces economic policy instruments. It is concluded that quantity control focusing on overarching parameters such as fossil fuels or animal-derived products has not only the potential to reduce food waste by increasing food prices but can also address the multiple interlinked environmental challenges of the agricultural and food sector. Full article
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Monitoring of Changes in Land Use/Land Cover in Syria from 2010 to 2018 Using Multitemporal Landsat Imagery and GIS
Land 2020, 9(7), 226; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9070226 - 11 Jul 2020
Cited by 7
Abstract
Understanding the effects of socio-ecological shocks on land use/land cover (LULC) change is essential for developing land management strategies and for reducing adverse environmental pressures. Our study examines the impacts of the armed conflict in Syria, which began in mid-2011, and the related [...] Read more.
Understanding the effects of socio-ecological shocks on land use/land cover (LULC) change is essential for developing land management strategies and for reducing adverse environmental pressures. Our study examines the impacts of the armed conflict in Syria, which began in mid-2011, and the related social and economic crisis on LULC between 2010 and 2018. We used remote sensing for change detection by applying a supervised maximum likelihood classification to Landsat images of the three target years 2010, 2014, and 2018. Based on the computed extent of our LULC classes and accuracy assessment, we calculated area-adjusted estimates and 95% confidence intervals. Our classification achieved an overall accuracy of 86.4%. Compared to 2010, we found an increase in spatial extent for bare areas (40,011 km2), forests (2576 km2), and urban and peri-urban areas (3560 km2), whereas rangelands (37,005 km2) and cultivated areas (9425 km2) decreased by 2018. It is not possible to determine whether the changes in LULC in Syria will be permanent or temporary. Natural conditions such as climate fluctuations had an impact on the uses of the natural environment and cultivated areas during the study period, especially in regions suffering from water stress. Although seasonal precipitation patterns and temperature affect LULC change, however, we could not identify a prevailing climate trend towards more drought-prone conditions. Our analysis focuses on (potential) direct and indirect implications of the Syrian conflict on LULC change, which most notably occurred between 2014 and 2018. Conflict-related main drivers were human activities and demographic changes, which are mainly attributable to large-scale population displacement, military operations, concomitant socio-economic status, and control of local resources. As the study provides quantitative and qualitative information on the dynamics of LULC changes in Syria, it may serve as a framework for further relevant conflict-related research and support planning, management practices, and sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Land Systems and Global Change)
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Communication
Reclassifying the Wildland–Urban Interface Using Fire Occurrences for the United States
Land 2020, 9(7), 225; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9070225 - 11 Jul 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
The wildland–urban interface (WUI) occurs at the intersection of houses and undeveloped wildlands, where fire is a safety concern for communities, motivating investment in planning, protection, and risk mitigation. Because there is no operational definition of WUI based on where fires in fact [...] Read more.
The wildland–urban interface (WUI) occurs at the intersection of houses and undeveloped wildlands, where fire is a safety concern for communities, motivating investment in planning, protection, and risk mitigation. Because there is no operational definition of WUI based on where fires in fact have occurred, I used fire occurrences to objectively establish a definition of WUI, while examining spatiotemporal changes, for the conterminous United States. I applied four classifiers, but focused on C5.0, which produced equivalent sensitivity (0.87 to 0.91 at prevalence = 0.67) and generated a ruleset that indicated housing density was the preferable basis for definitions. Fire occurrences overall were predicted for housing densities <100 houses/km2 with potentially low (≥10%) thresholds for percent vegetation cover, varying by housing densities and models. A generalized guideline according to classifications is continued use of existing definitions for wildlands of <6.17 houses/km2 and a low-density intermix class of 6.17 to 50 houses/km2. Departing from other definitions, the medium-density class encompasses 50 to 100 houses/km2 and the high-density class is 100 to 200 houses/km2. Interface, or suburban, communities are 200 to 400 houses/km2. Implications of refining the definition include a larger critical area classified as greater fire risk (low and medium-density WUI below 100 houses/km2) at 855,000 km2 during 2010, and; therefore, incorporation of more communities and homeowners into a high-risk status. The low-density class had greatest risk of fire exposure, but the medium-density class contained a greater concentration of houses. Classification of the wildland–urban interface or intermix based on realized fire occurrences provides an objective foundation for identifying residential densities at risk of fire exposure, which permits disclosure of risk, prioritization of resources to communities and homeowners with greater wildfire exposure, development of strategies for communities to coexist with fire, and responses to reduce vulnerability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Fire in the Earth System: Humans and Nature)
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Article
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
Cited by 3
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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Article
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
Cited by 3
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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Article
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
Cited by 5
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Rural Landscapes - Challenges and Solutions to Landscape Governance)
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Article
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
Cited by 9
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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Article
Anthropogenic Biomes: 10,000 BCE to 2015 CE
Land 2020, 9(5), 129; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9050129 - 25 Apr 2020
Cited by 7
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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Article
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 6
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
Article
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
Cited by 3
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land, Land Use and Social Issues)
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Article
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
Cited by 10
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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Article
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
Cited by 1
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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Article
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
Cited by 4
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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Article
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
Cited by 5
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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Article
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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Article
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
Cited by 13
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
Article
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 5
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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Article
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
Cited by 11
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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Article
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 4
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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Article
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
Cited by 9
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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Article
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 4
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
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Global Vegetation and Land Surface Dynamics in a Changing Climate)
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Article
Biodiversity Impacts of Increased Ethanol Production in Brazil
Land 2020, 9(1), 12; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9010012 - 03 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
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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Article
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
Cited by 1
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

Jump to: Research, Other

Review
Toward Smart Land Management: Land Acquisition and the Associated Challenges in Ghana. A Look into a Blockchain Digital Land Registry for Prospects
Land 2021, 10(3), 239; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10030239 - 01 Mar 2021
Abstract
Land acquisition in Ghana is fraught with challenges of multiple sales, numerous unofficial charges, unnecessary bureaucracies, intrusion of unqualified middlemen, and lack of transparency among others. Studies have suggested digitization as a way forward to improve Ghana’s land management system and to address [...] Read more.
Land acquisition in Ghana is fraught with challenges of multiple sales, numerous unofficial charges, unnecessary bureaucracies, intrusion of unqualified middlemen, and lack of transparency among others. Studies have suggested digitization as a way forward to improve Ghana’s land management system and to address these acquisition challenges. However, none of these studies have specifically provided a clear conceptual digital framework for land acquisition. Most contemporary land literature globally appraise blockchain technology as a potential solution to these challenges in Ghana’s land acquisition process. This article applies an integrative review, mixed with strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) analysis, and deductive lessons from a digital land registry concept to develop a blockchain-based smart land acquisition framework solution in view of Ghana’s land acquisition challenges. However, it is identified that threats of sabotage of this framework exist among some customary land owners, land officials, and private blockchain-based land experts for various reasons. Among others, a legal basis for a public–private partnership is recommended particularly to discourage sabotage from private blockchain-based land experts. We recommend future research works to delve into establishing a framework that can be used as a guide to assess the readiness of land management and land administration systems for blockchain consideration in sub-Sahara Africa, particularly Ghana. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Responsible and Smart Land Management)
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Review
Toward Best Management Practices for Ecological Corridors
Land 2021, 10(2), 140; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10020140 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Ecological corridors are one of the best, and possibly only viable, management tools to maintain biodiversity at large scales and to allow species, and ecological processes, to track climate change. This document has been assembled as a summary of the best available information [...] Read more.
Ecological corridors are one of the best, and possibly only viable, management tools to maintain biodiversity at large scales and to allow species, and ecological processes, to track climate change. This document has been assembled as a summary of the best available information about managing these systems. Our aim with this paper is to provide managers with a convenient guidance document and tool to assist in applying scientific management principles to management of corridors. We do not cover issues related to corridor design or political buy in, but focus on how a corridor should be managed once it has been established. The first part of our paper outlines the history and value of ecological corridors. We next describe our methodologies for developing this guidance document. We then summarize the information about the impacts of linear features on corridors and strategies for dealing with them—specifically, we focus on the effects of roads, canals, security fences, and transmission lines. Following the description of effects, we provide a summary of the best practices for managing the impacts of linear barriers. Globally, many corridors are established in the flood plains of stream and rivers and occur in riparian areas associated with surface waters. Therefore, we next provide guidance on how to manage corridors that occur in riparian areas. We then segue into corridors and the urban/suburban environment, and summarize strategies for dealing with urban development within corridors. The final major anthropic land use that may affect corridor management is cultivation and grazing agriculture. We end this review by identifying gaps in knowledge pertaining to how best to manage corridors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Land Systems and Global Change)
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Review
A Review of Urban Ecosystem Services Research in Southeast Asia
Land 2021, 10(1), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010040 - 05 Jan 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Urban blue-green spaces hold immense potential for supporting the sustainability and liveability of cities through the provision of urban ecosystem services (UES). However, research on UES in the Global South has not been reviewed as systematically as in the Global North. In Southeast [...] Read more.
Urban blue-green spaces hold immense potential for supporting the sustainability and liveability of cities through the provision of urban ecosystem services (UES). However, research on UES in the Global South has not been reviewed as systematically as in the Global North. In Southeast Asia, the nature and extent of the biases, imbalances and gaps in UES research are unclear. We address this issue by conducting a systematic review of UES research in Southeast Asia over the last twenty years. Our findings draw attention to the unequal distribution of UES research within the region, and highlight common services, scales and features studied, as well as methods undertaken in UES research. We found that while studies tend to assess regulating and cultural UES at a landscape scale, few studies examined interactions between services by assessing synergies and tradeoffs. Moreover, the bias in research towards megacities in the region may overlook less-developed nations, rural areas, and peri-urban regions and their unique perspectives and preferences towards UES management. We discuss the challenges and considerations for integrating and conducting research on UES in Southeast Asia based on its unique and diverse socio-cultural characteristics. We conclude our review by highlighting aspects of UES research that need more attention in order to support land use planning and decision-making in Southeast Asia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Ecosystem Services II)
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Review
Measuring Multifunctional Agricultural Landscapes
Land 2020, 9(8), 260; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9080260 - 03 Aug 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
Multifunctional agriculture (MFA) has attracted increased attention from academics and policymakers in recent years. Academic researchers have utilised various approaches to assess and measure the multifunctionality of agriculture and rural landscapes. This paper outlines the nature of MFA and key supporting policies, before [...] Read more.
Multifunctional agriculture (MFA) has attracted increased attention from academics and policymakers in recent years. Academic researchers have utilised various approaches to assess and measure the multifunctionality of agriculture and rural landscapes. This paper outlines the nature of MFA and key supporting policies, before reviewing the applied research approaches, drawing primarily from the European Union and China where specific policies on MFA have been implemented to support rural development and promote sustainable rural communities. Four distinct types of valuation of modern MFA are recognised: economic, biophysical, socio-cultural, and holistic. Following a search of both the recent and older MFA literature, evaluations of the strengths and weaknesses of quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods applications are provided using examples from a range of recent studies. The review illustrates the diversity of approaches to measure MFA. While noting that many studies operate at a landscape scale, the challenge remains that the lack of commonality in the research approaches applied means it is difficult to provide effective comparisons between studies or to compare findings. A future research agenda will need to emphasise the need for more consideration of the roles of MFA research to support decision-makers, especially policy makers, but also farmers who largely make decisions for individual farms but, if considered collectively, can transform production systems at a landscape scale. Full article
Review
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
Cited by 1
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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Review
Urban Greenways: A Systematic Review and Typology
Land 2020, 9(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9020040 - 01 Feb 2020
Cited by 5
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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Review
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 59
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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Other

Jump to: Research, Review

Commentary
Toward a New Urban Cycle? A Closer Look to Sprawl, Demographic Transitions and the Environment in Europe
Land 2021, 10(2), 127; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10020127 - 28 Jan 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Urban growth is a largely debated issue in social science. Specific forms of metropolitan expansion—including sprawl—involve multiple and fascinating research dimensions, making mixed (quali-quantitative) analysis of this phenomenon particularly complex and challenging at the same time. Urban sprawl has attracting the attention of [...] Read more.
Urban growth is a largely debated issue in social science. Specific forms of metropolitan expansion—including sprawl—involve multiple and fascinating research dimensions, making mixed (quali-quantitative) analysis of this phenomenon particularly complex and challenging at the same time. Urban sprawl has attracting the attention of multidisciplinary studies defining nature, dynamics, and consequences that dispersed low-density settlements are having on biophysical and socioeconomic contexts worldwide. The present commentary provides a brief overview on nature and implications of the latent relationship between sprawl, demographic dynamics, and background socio-environmental contexts with special focus on Europe. Empirical evidence supports the idea that spatial planning should cope more effectively with the increasing environmental and socioeconomic exposure of European regions to sprawl and demographic transitions, being progressively far away from a traditional urban cycle with sequential waves of urbanization, suburbanization, counter-urbanization, and re-urbanization. Growing socio-ecological vulnerability of metropolitan regions was evaluated based on a literature review demonstrating how a better comprehension of the intimate linkage between long-term demographic dynamics and urban cycles is necessary to inform fine-tuned policies controlling sprawl and promoting a sustainable management of peri-urban land. Full article
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Perspective
Understanding the Importance of Dynamic Landscape Connectivity
Land 2020, 9(9), 303; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9090303 - 29 Aug 2020
Cited by 6
Abstract
Landscape connectivity is increasingly promoted as a conservation tool to combat the negative effects of habitat loss, fragmentation, and climate change. Given its importance as a key conservation strategy, connectivity science is a rapidly growing discipline. However, most landscape connectivity models consider connectivity [...] Read more.
Landscape connectivity is increasingly promoted as a conservation tool to combat the negative effects of habitat loss, fragmentation, and climate change. Given its importance as a key conservation strategy, connectivity science is a rapidly growing discipline. However, most landscape connectivity models consider connectivity for only a single snapshot in time, despite the widespread recognition that landscapes and ecological processes are dynamic. In this paper, we discuss the emergence of dynamic connectivity and the importance of including dynamism in connectivity models and assessments. We outline dynamic processes for both structural and functional connectivity at multiple spatiotemporal scales and provide examples of modeling approaches at each of these scales. We highlight the unique challenges that accompany the adoption of dynamic connectivity for conservation management and planning in the context of traditional conservation prioritization approaches. With the increased availability of time series and species movement data, computational capacity, and an expanding number of empirical examples in the literature, incorporating dynamic processes into connectivity models is more feasible than ever. Here, we articulate how dynamism is an intrinsic component of connectivity and integral to the future of connectivity science. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dynamic Landscape Connectivity)
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Opinion
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
Cited by 13
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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