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
Conterminous United States Land-Cover Change (1985–2016): New Insights from Annual Time Series
Land 2022, 11(2), 298; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11020298 - 16 Feb 2022
Cited by 4
Abstract
Sample-based estimates augmented by complete coverage land-cover maps were used to estimate area and describe patterns of annual land-cover change across the conterminous United States (CONUS) between 1985 and 2016. Most of the CONUS land cover remained stable in terms of net class [...] Read more.
Sample-based estimates augmented by complete coverage land-cover maps were used to estimate area and describe patterns of annual land-cover change across the conterminous United States (CONUS) between 1985 and 2016. Most of the CONUS land cover remained stable in terms of net class change over this time, but a substantial gross change dynamic was captured by the annual and cumulative time intervals. The dominant types of changes can be grouped into natural resource cycles, increases in urbanization, and surface-water dynamics. The annual estimates over the 30-year time series showed a reduction in the rate of urban expansion after 2006, new growth in cropland after 2007, but a net overall decline in cropland since 1985, and two eras of net tree cover loss, the first one early in the time series and the second starting in 2012. Our study provides a holistic assessment of the CONUS land-cover conversion (class) change and can serve as a new benchmark for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Land – Observation and Monitoring)
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Article
Importance of Land in SDG Policy Instruments: A Study of ASEAN Developing Countries
Land 2022, 11(2), 218; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11020218 - 30 Jan 2022
Abstract
Allocating land-related social, economic, and legal benefits to people is crucial for meeting the commitments made by various countries for achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). Economic growth in developing countries in the Southeast Asian region is very rapid, requiring primary resources such as [...] Read more.
Allocating land-related social, economic, and legal benefits to people is crucial for meeting the commitments made by various countries for achieving sustainable development goals (SDGs). Economic growth in developing countries in the Southeast Asian region is very rapid, requiring primary resources such as land, which poses challenges for implementing nationally determined commitments towards SDGs. This paper quantitatively compares the relevant policy instruments issued by the key ASEAN countries to analyze the importance of land provision in achieving the specific SDGs. Using content analysis to formulate a framework for comparing the various policy instruments and strategic plans, the article identifies the importance of land use in various policy instruments focused on achieving SDGs. Most countries use authoritative instruments to incorporate land-related aspects. The use of the symbolic, capacity-building, and incentive instruments is relatively lesser. Many countries give prominence to land for providing shelter or as an economic resource, while land use for managing gender equality is negligible. Policy makers could incorporate a more balanced mix of instruments and those addressing different dimensions of land use while redesigning their policy or strategy documents to implement SDGs. Full article
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Article
Drone-Based Identification of Erosive Processes in Open-Pit Mining Restored Areas
Land 2022, 11(2), 212; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11020212 - 29 Jan 2022
Cited by 2
Abstract
Unmanned Aerial Systems, or drones, are very helpful tools for managing open-pit mining operations and developing ecological restoration activities. This article presents a method for identifying water erosion processes in active quarries by means of drone imagery remote sensing, in the absence of [...] Read more.
Unmanned Aerial Systems, or drones, are very helpful tools for managing open-pit mining operations and developing ecological restoration activities. This article presents a method for identifying water erosion processes in active quarries by means of drone imagery remote sensing, in the absence of pre-existing imagery or mapping for comparison. A Digital Elevation Model (DEM) with a spatial resolution (SR) >10 cm and an orthophoto with an SR >2.5 cm were generated from images captured with a drone and their subsequent photogrammetric processing. By using Geographical Information Systems tools to process the DEM, a detailed drainage network was obtained, the areas of detected water erosion were separated, and the watersheds in the gullies identified. Subsequently, an estimated DEM before the erosive processes was reconstructed by interpolating the gully ridges; this DEM serves as a reference for the relief before the erosion. To calculate the volume of eroded material, the DEM of Differences was calculated, which estimates the volume difference between the previously estimated DEM and the current DEM. Additionally, we calculated the material necessary for the geomorphological adaptation of the quarry and the slope map, which are two valuable factors closely related to the monitoring of erosive processes. The results obtained allowed us to identify the erosion factors quickly and accurately in this type of mining. In the case of water-filled quarries, it would be important to characterize the subsurface relief. Essentially, the presented method can be applied with affordable and non-invasive materials to create digital grid maps at 10 cm resolution, obtaining data ready for 3D metrics, being a very practical landscape modelling tool for characterizing the restoration evolution of open-pit mining spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land Degradation and Sustainable Land Management)
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Article
The Urban Future: Relating Garden City Ideas to the Climate Emergency
Land 2022, 11(2), 147; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11020147 - 18 Jan 2022
Cited by 1
Abstract
Climate emergency, landscape connectivity and rapid urbanization are among the major challenges of the 21st century. This paper discusses ways in which cities can respond to the changing climate and put in place a sustainable vision. It uses the garden city concept as [...] Read more.
Climate emergency, landscape connectivity and rapid urbanization are among the major challenges of the 21st century. This paper discusses ways in which cities can respond to the changing climate and put in place a sustainable vision. It uses the garden city concept as a vehicle to investigate the future of our cities in relation to the climate emergency and the elements that urban centres need to provide. Cities and their wider regions are recognised as key actors in supporting systemic change and climate change governance, and therefore the scope of this paper is to explore contemporary models of garden cities and the ways in which these might be able to address climate emergency as well as the concepts of zero carbon and sustainability. The study uses the 2014 Wolfson Economics Prize, which was based on a garden city question. Taking an environmental perspective on the delivery of future cities, and using the competition essays and masterplans, this study produces analytical drawings aiming to unpack the concepts of sustainability and low carbon. This research concludes that the garden city concept can support the future needs of our settlements, but a 21st century approach needs to be developed. The social and economic ideas originally introduced at the end of the 19th century need to be updated as a holistic vision, including nature and biodiversity, climatic conditions, climate emergency adaptation and mitigation processes as well as community health and wellbeing, to be able to fully respond to the needs of the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Integrating Urban Design and Landscape Architecture)
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Article
Ecosystem Services Valuation for the Sustainable Land Use Management by Nature-Based Solution (NbS) in the Common Agricultural Policy Actions: A Case Study on the Foglia River Basin (Marche Region, Italy)
Land 2022, 11(1), 57; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11010057 - 31 Dec 2021
Cited by 4
Abstract
Agricultural land is a very important ecosystem that provides a range of services like food, maintenance of soil structure, and hydrological services with high ecological value to human wellbeing Ecosystem Services (ESs). Understanding the contribution of different agricultural practices to supply ESs would [...] Read more.
Agricultural land is a very important ecosystem that provides a range of services like food, maintenance of soil structure, and hydrological services with high ecological value to human wellbeing Ecosystem Services (ESs). Understanding the contribution of different agricultural practices to supply ESs would help inform choices about the most beneficial land use management. Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are defined by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) as actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems, which address societal challenges (e.g., climate change, food and water security, or natural disasters) effectively and adaptively, while simultaneously providing human wellbeing and biodiversity benefits. Some actions farmers can implement in the new Rural Development Programs (RDP 2021–2022 and 2023–2027) can be considered as NbS and could affect the quantity, quality, and time of some ESs related to water regulation and supply, N adsorption and erosion protection. This study aims to evaluate these ESs in different scenarios in the upper Foglia river basin (Italy) and at a local scale (farming), and to highlight the issue to compensate farmers for the production of public goods which benefit the whole society (ESs) by the implementation of RDP’s actions. These scenarios highlight how actions have positive effects on ecosystem services and their economic value related to land use management, on maintaining agricultural practices by integrating Water Frame Directive (2000/60/EC), Directive 2007/60/EC on the management of flood risks and highlighting the potential role of farmers in a high diversity landscape. This study highlights a new way to evaluate the processes of natural capital in the production of public goods, which benefits the whole society (ESs), by emphasizing the economic and environmental role of farmers in producing them and putting on the table data to trigger a PES (Payment for Ecosystem Services) mechanism. To facilitate decision making, robust decision support tools are needed, underpinned by comprehensive cost-benefit analyses and spatially modeling in which agriculture can be a strategic sector to optimize food production and environmental protection in harmony with the Farm to Fork (F2F) strategy. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dynamics of Urbanization and Ecosystem Services Provision)
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Article
A Multivariate Approach to Evaluate Reduced Tillage Systems and Cover Crop Sustainability
Land 2022, 11(1), 55; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11010055 - 31 Dec 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
The evaluation of the effects of conservation agriculture during the transition from conventional tillage to no-tillage requires numerous indicators to be considered. For this purpose, we monitored changes in a multi-parameter dataset during a three-year experiment that combined three tillage intensities (conventional tillage—CT; [...] Read more.
The evaluation of the effects of conservation agriculture during the transition from conventional tillage to no-tillage requires numerous indicators to be considered. For this purpose, we monitored changes in a multi-parameter dataset during a three-year experiment that combined three tillage intensities (conventional tillage—CT; minimum tillage—MT; and no tillage—NT) with three soil covering managements (tillage radish cover crop, winter wheat cover crop and bare soil). Using a multivariate analysis, we developed a Relative Sustainability Index (RSI) based on 11 physical (e.g., bulk density and penetration resistance), chemical (e.g., soil organic carbon and pH) and biological soil properties (e.g., earthworm density) to evaluate cropping systems sustainability. The RSI was most affected by tillage intensity showing higher RSI values (i.e., better performances) in reduced tillage systems. Specifically, the RSI under NT was 42% greater than that of CT and 13% greater than that of MT. Soil covering had little impact on the RSI. Among the tested parameters, the RSI was increased most by saturated hydraulic conductivity (+193%) and earthworm density (+339%) across CT and NT treatments. Our results suggest that conservation agriculture and, particularly, reduced tillage systems, have the potential to increase farm environmental and agronomic sustainability. Full article
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Article
Using the Ecosystem Services Concept to Assess Transformation of Agricultural Landscapes in the European Alps
Land 2022, 11(1), 49; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11010049 - 30 Dec 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Mountain farming sustains human well-being by providing various ecosystem services (ES). In the last decades, socio-economic developments have led to worldwide changes in land-use/cover (LULC), but the related effects on ES have not been fully explored. This study aimed at assessing the impacts [...] Read more.
Mountain farming sustains human well-being by providing various ecosystem services (ES). In the last decades, socio-economic developments have led to worldwide changes in land-use/cover (LULC), but the related effects on ES have not been fully explored. This study aimed at assessing the impacts of the transformation of agricultural land on ES in the European Alps. We mapped 19 ES within the agriculturally used areas in the year 2000 and analyzed LULC changes by 2018. We compared eight regions with a similar development, regarding social–ecological characteristics, to outline contrasting trends. Our results indicate that the ES decreased most strongly in regions with a massive abandonment of mountain grassland, while ES in the ‘traditional agricultural region’ remained the most stable. In regions with an intensification of agriculture, together with urban sprawl, ES had the lowest values. Across all regions, a shift from ES that are typically associated with mountain farming towards forest-related ES occurred, due to forest regrowth. By relating differing trends in ES to social–ecological developments, we can discuss our findings regarding new landscapes and farming systems across the European Alps. Our quantitative and spatially explicit findings provide a valuable basis for policy development, from the regional to the international/EU level, and for adopting sustainable management strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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Article
National Park and UNESCO Global Geopark of Chelmos-Vouraikos (Greece): Floristic Diversity, Ecosystem Services and Management Implications
Land 2022, 11(1), 33; https://doi.org/10.3390/land11010033 - 25 Dec 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
This study highlights the importance of including detailed (local-scale) biodiversity and ecosystem services data for land-use management and promotion of protected areas using the National Park and UNESCO Global Geopark of Chelmos-Vouraikos (Greece) as a case study. Along with the conducted field surveys [...] Read more.
This study highlights the importance of including detailed (local-scale) biodiversity and ecosystem services data for land-use management and promotion of protected areas using the National Park and UNESCO Global Geopark of Chelmos-Vouraikos (Greece) as a case study. Along with the conducted field surveys and literature review for the National Park’s flora documentation, ecosystem type mapping and assessment of ecosystem services have been performed, following National and European Union (EU) guidelines for the Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) implementation across EU Member States. Main results include floristic diversity indicators, ecosystem type mapping and assessment, and ecosystem services identification and assessment of their actual and potential supply. By this, a scientifically informed baseline dataset was developed to support management and policy needs towards a holistic National Park management and a sustainable spatial planning for protected areas. Additionally, local scale ecosystem type and ecosystem services data have been produced as input for the MAES implementation in Greece and the EU. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Land Use Futures for a Sustainable Anthropocene)
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Article
Spatio-Temporal Patterns of Increasing Illegal Livestock Grazing over Three Decades at Moyowosi Kigosi Game Reserve, Tanzania
Land 2021, 10(12), 1325; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10121325 - 02 Dec 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
The global increase of livestock has caused illegal intrusion of livestock into protected areas. Until now, hotspot areas of illegal grazing have rarely been mapped, long-term monitoring data are missing, and little is known about the drivers of illegal grazing. We localized hotspots [...] Read more.
The global increase of livestock has caused illegal intrusion of livestock into protected areas. Until now, hotspot areas of illegal grazing have rarely been mapped, long-term monitoring data are missing, and little is known about the drivers of illegal grazing. We localized hotspots of illegal grazing and identified factors that influenced spatio-temporal patterns of illegal grazing over three decades in the Moyowosi Kigosi Game Reserve (MKGR), Tanzania. We used questionnaires with local pastoralists (N = 159), georeferenced aerial survey data and ranger reports from 1990–2019 to understand the reasons for illegal grazing in the area. We found that hotspots of illegal grazing occurred initially within 0–20 km of the boundary (H (3) = 137, p < 0.001; (H (3) = 32, p < 0.001) and encroached further into the protected area with time (H (3) = 11.3, p = 0.010); (H (2) = 59.0, p < 0.001). Further, livestock herd sizes decreased with increasing distance from the boundary (R = −0.20, p = 0.020; R = −0.40, p = 0.010). Most interviewees (81%) claimed that they face challenges of reduced foraging land in the wet season, caused by increasing land used for cultivation, which drives them into the MKGR to feed their livestock. We conclude that there is spatio-temporal consistency in the illegal livestock intrusion over three decades, and hotspot areas are located along the boundary of the MKGR. We suggest focusing patrols at these hotspot areas, especially during the wet season, to use limited law enforcement resources effectively. Full article
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Article
Millennial-Scale Carbon Storage in Natural Pine Forests of the North Carolina Lower Coastal Plain: Effects of Artificial Drainage in a Time of Rapid Sea Level Rise
Land 2021, 10(12), 1294; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10121294 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Coastal forested wetlands provide important ecosystem services along the southeastern region of the United States, but are threatened by anthropogenic and natural disturbances. Here, we examined the species composition, mortality, aboveground biomass, and carbon content of vegetation and soils in natural pine forests [...] Read more.
Coastal forested wetlands provide important ecosystem services along the southeastern region of the United States, but are threatened by anthropogenic and natural disturbances. Here, we examined the species composition, mortality, aboveground biomass, and carbon content of vegetation and soils in natural pine forests of the lower coastal plain in eastern North Carolina, USA. We compared a forest clearly in decline (termed “ghost forest”) adjacent to a roadside canal that had been installed as drainage for a road next to an adjacent forest subject to “natural” hydrology, unaltered by human modification (termed “healthy forest”). We also assessed how soil organic carbon (SOC) accumulation changed over time using 14C radiocarbon dating of wood sampled at different depths within the peat profile. Our results showed that the ghost forest had a higher tree density at 687 trees ha−1, and was dominated by swamp bays (Persea palustric), compared to the healthy forest, which had 265 trees ha−1 dominated by pond pine (Pinus serotina Michx). Overstory tree mortality of the ghost forest was nearly ten times greater than the healthy forest (p < 0.05), which actually contributed to higher total aboveground biomass (55.9 ± 12.6 Mg C ha−1 vs. 27.9 ± 8.7 Mg ha−1 in healthy forest), as the dead standing tree biomass (snags) added to that of an encroaching woody shrub layer during ecosystem transition. Therefore, the total aboveground C content of the ghost forest, 33.98 ± 14.8 Mg C ha−1, was higher than the healthy forest, 24.7 ± 5.2 Mg C ha−1 (p < 0.05). The total SOC stock down to a 2.3 m depth in the ghost forest was 824.1 ± 46.2 Mg C ha−1, while that of the healthy forest was 749.0 ± 170.5 Mg C ha−1 (p > 0.05). Carbon dating of organic sediments indicated that, as the sample age approaches modern times (surface layer year 2015), the organic soil accumulation rate (1.11 to 1.13 mm year−1) is unable to keep pace with the estimated rate of recent sea level rise (2.1 to 2.4 mm year−1), suggesting a causative relationship with the ecosystem transition occurring at the site. Increasing hydrologic stress over recent decades appears to have been a major driver of ecosystem transition, that is, ghost forest formation and woody shrub encroachment, as indicated by the far higher overstory tree mortality adjacent to the drainage ditch, which allows the inland propagation of hydrologic/salinity forcing due to SLR and extreme storms. Our study documents C accumulation in a coastal wetland over the past two millennia, which is now threatened due to the recent increase in the rate of SLR exceeding the natural peat accumulation rate, causing an ecosystem transition with unknown consequences for the stored C; however, much of it will eventually be returned to the atmosphere. More studies are needed to determine the causes and consequences of coastal ecosystem transition to inform the modeling of future coastal wetland responses to environmental change and the estimation of regional terrestrial C stocks and flux. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Celebrating 25 Years of World Wetlands Day)
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Article
Assessment of Land Cover Dynamics and Drivers of Urban Expansion Using Geospatial and Logistic Regression Approach in Wa Municipality, Ghana
Land 2021, 10(11), 1251; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10111251 - 16 Nov 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
The current trends of land use dynamics have revealed a significant transformation of settlement spaces. In the Wa Municipality of Ghana, the changes in land use and land cover are inspired by a plethora of driving forces. In this study, we assessed the [...] Read more.
The current trends of land use dynamics have revealed a significant transformation of settlement spaces. In the Wa Municipality of Ghana, the changes in land use and land cover are inspired by a plethora of driving forces. In this study, we assessed the geo-physical drivers of settlement expansion under land use dynamics in the Wa Municipality of Ghana. The study employed geospatial and remote sensing tools to map and analyse the spatio-temporal dynamics of the landscape, using Landsat satellite imageries: thematic mapper (TM), enhanced thematic mapper (ETM) and operational land imager (OLI) from 1990 to 2020. The study employed a binomial logistic regression model to statistically assess the geo-physical drivers of settlement expansion. Random forest (RF)–supervised classification based on spatio-temporal analyses generated relatively higher classification accuracies, with overall accuracy ranging from 89.33% to 93.3%. Urban expansion for the last three decades was prominent, as the period from 1990 to 2001 gained 11.44 km2 landmass of settlement, while there was 11.30 km2 gained from 2001 to 2010, and 29.44 km2 gained from 2010 to 2020. Out of the independent variables assessed, the distance to existing settlements, distance to river, and distance to primary, tertiary and unclassified roads were responsible for urban expansion. Full article
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Article
Dynamic Amazonia: The EU–Mercosur Trade Agreement and Deforestation
Land 2021, 10(11), 1243; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10111243 - 13 Nov 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
The trade agreement between the European Union and the Mercosur countries will increase deforestation in the Mercosur countries and Brazil, in particular, if ratified by member countries. We use a computable general equilibrium model to analyze how trade, land use, and agricultural production [...] Read more.
The trade agreement between the European Union and the Mercosur countries will increase deforestation in the Mercosur countries and Brazil, in particular, if ratified by member countries. We use a computable general equilibrium model to analyze how trade, land use, and agricultural production will change as a result of the agreement. We then use a statistical model to spatially allocate the predicted deforestation within the Brazilian Amazon. The models estimate that the agreement will cause additional deforestation in Brazil ranging from 56 to 173 thousand ha to accommodate increases in cropland area, depending on the level of governance, use of double-cropping techniques, and trade elasticity parameters. Most additional deforestation in Amazonia would be clustered near current deforestation hotspot areas. Some hotspots threaten the integrity of Indigenous lands and conservation units. Although a low deforestation scenario with gains in welfare is theoretically possible when high governance and multiple-cropping systems are in place, political challenges remain and cast doubt on Brazil’s ability to rein on illegal deforestation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Dynamic Amazonia: Lessons for a Changing World)
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Article
Emergent Properties of Land Systems: Nonlinear Dynamics of Scottish Farming Systems from 1867 to 2020
Land 2021, 10(11), 1172; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10111172 - 01 Nov 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Dynamics of arable and pastoral farming systems in Scotland over the period 1867–2020 are documented using time series analysis methods, including for nonlinear dynamical systems. Results show arable and pastoral farming, at a national scale, are dynamic over a range of timescales, with [...] Read more.
Dynamics of arable and pastoral farming systems in Scotland over the period 1867–2020 are documented using time series analysis methods, including for nonlinear dynamical systems. Results show arable and pastoral farming, at a national scale, are dynamic over a range of timescales, with medium- and short-term dynamics associated with endogenous system forces and exogenous factors, respectively. Medium-term dynamics provide evidence of endogenous systems-level feedbacks between farming sectors responding to change in world and national cereal prices as an economic driver, and act to dampen impacts of exogenous shocks and events (weather, disease). Regime shifts are identified in national cereal prices. Results show change and dynamics as emergent properties of system interactions. Changes in dynamics and strength of endogenous dampening over the duration of the study are associated with dynamical changes from major governmental policy decisions that altered the boundary conditions for interdependencies of arable and pastoral farming. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Multiple Roles for Landscape Ecology in Future Farming Systems)
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Article
A Review of Small Farmer Land Use and Deforestation in Tropical Forest Frontiers: Implications for Conservation and Sustainable Livelihoods
Land 2021, 10(11), 1113; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10111113 - 21 Oct 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Forest conversion for agriculture is the most expansive signature of human occupation on the Earth’s surface. This paper develops a conceptual model of factors underlying frontier agricultural expansion—the predominant driver of deforestation worldwide—from the perspective of small farm households—the majority of farmers globally. [...] Read more.
Forest conversion for agriculture is the most expansive signature of human occupation on the Earth’s surface. This paper develops a conceptual model of factors underlying frontier agricultural expansion—the predominant driver of deforestation worldwide—from the perspective of small farm households—the majority of farmers globally. The framework consists of four causal rubrics: demographic, socioeconomic, political–economic, and ecological. Following this approach, the article explores the current state of knowledge on tropical deforestation in tropical agricultural frontiers with a focus on Latin America, the region of greatest deforestation worldwide during recent decades. Neo-Malthusian arguments notwithstanding, in many tropical nations, deforestation has proceeded unabated in recent years despite declining rural populations. However, evidence from the global-to-household scale suggests that population size and composition are also related to farm forest conversion. Existing particularist or behaviorialist theories sometimes fail to capture key geographical and temporal dimensions, yet studies support the notion that certain cultural, individual, and household characteristics are crucial determinants of forest clearing. Conversely, while institutional arguments sometimes fail to emphasize that the ultimate land use change agents are local resource users, their livelihood decisions are shaped and constrained by policies governing economic subsidies, and market and infrastructure development. Further, although ecological change is usually modeled as an outcome in the deforestation literature, increasingly acute climate change and natural farm endowments form a dynamic tabula rasa on which household land use decisions are enabled. To more fully comprehend frontier forest conversion and to enhance protection and conservation while promoting vital local livelihoods, future research may fruitfully investigate the interaction of demographic, social, political, economic, and ecological factors across spatial scales and academic disciplines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Forest Ecosystems: Protection and Restoration)
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Article
Fostering Carbon Credits to Finance Wildfire Risk Reduction Forest Management in Mediterranean Landscapes
Land 2021, 10(10), 1104; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10101104 - 19 Oct 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Despite the need for preserving the carbon pools in fire-prone southern European landscapes, emission reductions from wildfire risk mitigation are still poorly understood. In this study, we estimated expected carbon emissions and carbon credits from fuel management projects ongoing in Catalonia (Spain). The [...] Read more.
Despite the need for preserving the carbon pools in fire-prone southern European landscapes, emission reductions from wildfire risk mitigation are still poorly understood. In this study, we estimated expected carbon emissions and carbon credits from fuel management projects ongoing in Catalonia (Spain). The planning areas encompass about 1000 km2 and represent diverse fire regimes and Mediterranean forest ecosystems. We first modeled the burn probability assuming extreme weather conditions and historical fire ignition patterns. Stand-level wildfire exposure was then coupled with fuel consumption estimates to assess expected carbon emissions. Finally, we estimated treatment cost-efficiency and carbon credits for each fuel management plan. Landscape-scale average emissions ranged between 0.003 and 0.070 T CO2 year−1 ha−1. Fuel treatments in high emission hotspots attained reductions beyond 0.06 T CO2 year−1 per treated ha. Thus, implementing carbon credits could potentially finance up to 14% of the treatment implementation costs in high emission areas. We discuss how stand conditions, fire regimes, and treatment costs determine the treatment cost-efficiency and long-term carbon-sink capacity. Our work may serve as a preliminary step for developing a carbon-credit market and subsidizing wildfire risk management programs in low-revenue Mediterranean forest systems prone to extreme wildfires. Full article
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Article
Is Expansion or Regulation more Critical for Existing Protected Areas? A Case Study on China’s Eco-Redline Policy in Chongqing Capital
Land 2021, 10(10), 1084; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10101084 - 14 Oct 2021
Abstract
Protecting areas of important ecological value is one of the main approaches to safeguarding the Earth’s ecosystems. However, the long-term effectiveness of protected areas is often uncertain. Focusing on China’s ecological conservation redline policy (Eco-redline policy) introduced in recent years, this study attempted [...] Read more.
Protecting areas of important ecological value is one of the main approaches to safeguarding the Earth’s ecosystems. However, the long-term effectiveness of protected areas is often uncertain. Focusing on China’s ecological conservation redline policy (Eco-redline policy) introduced in recent years, this study attempted to examine the effectiveness of alternative policy interventions and their implications on future land-use and land-cover (LULC) patterns. A scenario analysis was employed to elucidate the implications of different policy interventions for Chongqing capital, one of the most representative cities in China. These interventions considered the spatial extent of Eco-redline areas (ERAs) and the management intensity within these areas. LULC data for two different periods from 2000 (first year) to 2010 (end year) were derived from satellite images and then used for future (2050) LULC projections, incorporating the various policy interventions. Furthermore, several landscape indices, including the shape complexity, contrast, and aggregation of forest patches were calculated for each scenario. After comparing the scenarios, our analysis suggests that the current extent of ERAs may not be sufficient, although their management intensity is. Therefore, we suggest that during the optimization of the Eco-redline policy, ERAs are gradually increased while maintaining their current management intensity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Land Planning and Architecture)
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Article
Four Years Continuous Monitoring Reveals Different Effects of Urban Constructed Wetlands on Bats
Land 2021, 10(10), 1087; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10101087 - 14 Oct 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Proactive artificial wetland constructions have been implemented to mitigate the loss of wetlands and their ecosystem services. As wetlands are habitats for bats, short-term (one or two years) studies find that constructed wetlands can immediately increase local bat activity and diversity. However, it [...] Read more.
Proactive artificial wetland constructions have been implemented to mitigate the loss of wetlands and their ecosystem services. As wetlands are habitats for bats, short-term (one or two years) studies find that constructed wetlands can immediately increase local bat activity and diversity. However, it is not clear how constructed wetlands affect bats through time while the wetlands are aging. We collected four years of continuous bat acoustic monitoring data at two constructed wetlands in an urban park in Greensboro, NC, USA. We examined bat activity and community composition patterns at these wetlands and compared them with reference sites in the city. With four years of data, we found that the effects of constructed wetlands were both habitat- and species-specific. The wetland in forests significantly increased bat activity, while the wetland in the open grass altered bat community composition. Specifically, in terms of species, we found that over time, constructed wetlands no longer attracted more big brown, silver-haired, or evening bats than control sites while the wetlands aged, highlighting the need to study broadly how each bat species uses natural and artificial wetlands. We emphasize the importance of long-term monitoring and the periodical evaluation of wildlife conservation actions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildlife Protection and Habitat Management: Practice and Perspectives)
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An Effectiveness Study on the Use of Different Types of LID for Water Cycle Recovery in a Small Catchment
Land 2021, 10(10), 1055; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10101055 - 08 Oct 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Low-Impact Development (LID) is alleviating the water cycle problems that arise from an increasing impervious surface area caused by urbanization. However, there is insufficient research on the application and analyses of LID techniques that are used for studying the management goals for water [...] Read more.
Low-Impact Development (LID) is alleviating the water cycle problems that arise from an increasing impervious surface area caused by urbanization. However, there is insufficient research on the application and analyses of LID techniques that are used for studying the management goals for water cycle restoration. The present study applied various LID techniques, utilizing the stormwater management model (SWMM) in the Naju-Noan Waterfront Zone Construction Project and studying its effects, aiming to restore the runoff that had increased due to urbanization to its pre-development state. The five LID techniques used in the analysis were permeable pavements, bioswales, rainwater gardens, green roofs, and planter boxes, which took up 36.2% of the total area. Our analysis showed that development increased the runoff rate from 39.4% to 62.4%, and LID reduced it to 34.7%. Furthermore, development increased the peak flow from 0.77 m³/s to 1.08 m³/s, and the application of LID reduced it to 0.78 m³/s. An effective reduction in the runoff and peak flow was shown in every recurrence period that was tested, and the bioretention cell type of LID showed the best effectiveness per unit area compared with permeable pavements and green roofs. Full article
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Article
Application of the Adaptive Cycle and Panarchy in La Marjaleria Social-Ecological System: Reflections for Operability
Land 2021, 10(9), 980; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10090980 - 17 Sep 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
The adaptive cycle and panarchy are recognised tools for resilience assessment prior to establishing new management approaches aligned with Anthropocene needs. This study used the adaptive cycle and panarchy to assess the dynamics of the social-ecological system (SES) of La Marjaleria, Spain, which [...] Read more.
The adaptive cycle and panarchy are recognised tools for resilience assessment prior to establishing new management approaches aligned with Anthropocene needs. This study used the adaptive cycle and panarchy to assess the dynamics of the social-ecological system (SES) of La Marjaleria, Spain, which experienced increasing human pressure and environmental degradation in recent decades, and developed the ‘adaptive curve’ as a novel graphical representation of system change in the presentation of the results. Based on a literature review of historical changes in La Marjaleria, a SES analysis was performed using the adaptive cycle and panarchy, following the Resilience Alliance’s Practitioners Guide. The assessment offered new insights into the social and ecological dynamics of La Marjaleria through identification of causes and consequences from a complex systems perspective. Previous land-use management in the area has generated tensions between different stakeholders and reduced environmental resilience. The systems thinking approach highlighted the complexity of change processes, offering the possibility of new routes for dialogue and understanding. The ‘adaptive curve’ developed as a method of illustrating interactions across scales in this study could be useful for synthesising the results of a panarchy analysis and supporting their interpretation, offering relevant departure points for future planning and decision-making. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Feature Papers for Soil-Sediment-Water Systems Section)
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Article
Integrating Multivariate (GeoDetector) and Bivariate (IV) Statistics for Hybrid Landslide Susceptibility Modeling: A Case of the Vicinity of Pinios Artificial Lake, Ilia, Greece
Land 2021, 10(9), 973; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10090973 - 15 Sep 2021
Cited by 5
Abstract
Over the last few years, landslides have occurred more and more frequently worldwide, causing severe effects on both natural and human environments. Given that landslide susceptibility (LS) assessments and mapping can spatially determine the potential for landslides in a region, it constitutes a [...] Read more.
Over the last few years, landslides have occurred more and more frequently worldwide, causing severe effects on both natural and human environments. Given that landslide susceptibility (LS) assessments and mapping can spatially determine the potential for landslides in a region, it constitutes a basic step in effective risk management and disaster response. Nowadays, several LS models are available, with each one having its advantages and disadvantages. In order to enhance the benefits and overcome the weaknesses of individual modeling, the present study proposes a hybrid LS model based on the integration of two different statistical analysis models, the multivariate Geographical Detector (GeoDetector) and the bivariate information value (IV). In a GIS-based framework, the hybrid model named GeoDIV was tested to generate a reliable LS map for the vicinity of the Pinios artificial lake (Ilia, Greece), a Greek wetland. A landslide inventory of 60 past landslides and 14 conditioning (morphological, hydro-lithological and anthropogenic) factors was prepared to compose the spatial database. An LS map was derived from the GeoDIV model, presenting the different zones of potential landslides (probability) for the study area. This map was then validated by success and prediction rates—which translate to the accuracy and prediction ability of the model, respectively. The findings confirmed that hybrid modeling can outperform individual modeling, as the proposed GeoDIV model presented better validation results than the IV model. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Landslide Hazard and Environment Risk Assessment)
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Article
Locating the Italian Radioactive Waste Repository: Issues and Perplexities Arisen from Open Data-Based Analyses about the TO-10 Site (NW Italy)
Land 2021, 10(9), 932; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10090932 - 05 Sep 2021
Abstract
Recently, Italy has started the procedure for the selection of suitable sites for hosting the National Repository for Low-Medium Activity Radioactive Wastes. Sogin spa, a public company, taking into account the criteria of the ISPRA Technical Guide no. 29, solicited by the EU [...] Read more.
Recently, Italy has started the procedure for the selection of suitable sites for hosting the National Repository for Low-Medium Activity Radioactive Wastes. Sogin spa, a public company, taking into account the criteria of the ISPRA Technical Guide no. 29, solicited by the EU Directive 2011/70/Euratom, has presented the CNAPI (National Map of the Potentially Suitable Areas) which has become operative since 5 January 2021. Sixty-seven sites were identified in Italy as potentially suitable for hosting the repository. Some criticalities immediately appeared concerning the properness of the selection. An analysis was, therefore, achieved to explore part of the rationales underlying the adopted procedure. A paradigmatic site, namely the TO-10 one (NW Italy), was chosen for the analysis, which highlighted significant anomalies affecting both the procedure rationales and its results. Since the selection process majorly relies on geographical data, attention was particularly paid on the role of official data from open archives. With reference to the most updated and detailed ones, we demonstrated that the Sogin procedure suffers from several critical points. In particular, with reference to the TO-10 site, we found that it cannot be absolutely considered to be suitable for hosting the National Deposit. In fact, it proved to match several exclusion criteria included in the ISPRA Technical Guide n. 29. These include: the potentially high “seismic risk” due to a “seismic gap” and complex tectonics associated with uplift (up to 1–1.5 mm/y); a highly vulnerable and extremely superficial groundwater table; a high permeability (10−2–10−3 m/s) of the cover sedimentary units; not proper buffer zones around local settlements. In spite of the local specificity of the analysis, results concerning procedure weaknesses are general. Consequently, we expect that they can be a stimulus for Sogin to more properly face the next steps of the selection procedure. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Geomatics for Resource Monitoring and Management)
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Article
Urban Naturalization for Green Spaces Using Soil Tillage, Herbicide Application, Compost Amendment and Native Vegetation
Land 2021, 10(8), 854; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10080854 - 15 Aug 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Naturalization is a new and promising ecological approach to green space development for urban environments, although knowledge is sparse on techniques to implement it. We evaluated naturalization of eight native trees and shrubs, with site preparation (tillage, herbicide) and soil amendment (compost rates) [...] Read more.
Naturalization is a new and promising ecological approach to green space development for urban environments, although knowledge is sparse on techniques to implement it. We evaluated naturalization of eight native trees and shrubs, with site preparation (tillage, herbicide) and soil amendment (compost rates) treatment combinations at six sites in the city of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Soil texture improved with all compost rates, and acidity, electrical conductivity and total carbon increased, especially with 100% compost. Soil nutrients generally increased with compost then declined within a year. Plant species with highest potential for use in urban green spaces were Picea glauca, Symphoricarpos albus and Rosa acicularis. Herbicide was the most influential site preparation treatment, positively increasing survival and growth of planted woody species, while negatively lowering non-native species cover and increasing noxious weed cover. Soil amendment with compost influenced cover not species richness, with high compost amendment reducing vegetation cover across sites, and increasing individual plant size. This study suggests amendment of soil with compost and appropriate site preparation can positively influence naturalization of these woody species for urban green spaces. Full article
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Article
Expert-Based Maps as a Regional Planning Tool Supporting Nature Conservation and Production-Integrated Compensation—A German Case Study on Biodiversity Offsets
Land 2021, 10(8), 808; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10080808 - 01 Aug 2021
Abstract
Many countries worldwide have developed guidelines for offsetting impacts on nature and landscape. Suitable locations are the prerequisite for the implementation of these measures, and this might lead to conflicts with agriculture. In addition, comprehensive planning is often lacking and potential added values [...] Read more.
Many countries worldwide have developed guidelines for offsetting impacts on nature and landscape. Suitable locations are the prerequisite for the implementation of these measures, and this might lead to conflicts with agriculture. In addition, comprehensive planning is often lacking and potential added values for nature conservation are not exploited. Concepts such as the so-called production-integrated compensation (PIC) have been introduced to give farmers the opportunity to actively participate in the offsetting process and improve cooperation. However, up to now, PIC has only rarely been put into practice. Against this backdrop, we have developed a regional planning tool for the implementation of PIC in practice. Based on geodata such as soil data, agricultural structure, or natural conditions at the field and landscape level, the general suitability, and specific measure-based recommendations for each plot can be verified with the help of a decision support system. These factors are assessed from both a nature and an agricultural perspective. The goal here is to highlight synergy effects and increase the likelihood of the proposed measures being implemented. Our tool facilitates the integrated planning of biodiversity offsets at regional level. In this way, it can promote the bundling and networking of measures. However, on-site analyses should be undertaken to complement the implementation of measures. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban-Rural-Partnerships: Sustainable and Resilient)
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Article
Effects of Grazer Exclusion on Carbon Cycling in Created Freshwater Wetlands
Land 2021, 10(8), 805; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10080805 - 31 Jul 2021
Abstract
Wetland ecosystems play a significant role in the global carbon cycle, and yet are increasingly threatened by human development and climate change. The continued loss of intact freshwater wetlands heightens the need for effective wetland creation and restoration. However, wetland structure and function [...] Read more.
Wetland ecosystems play a significant role in the global carbon cycle, and yet are increasingly threatened by human development and climate change. The continued loss of intact freshwater wetlands heightens the need for effective wetland creation and restoration. However, wetland structure and function are controlled by interacting abiotic and biotic factors, complicating efforts to replace ecosystem services associated with natural wetlands and making ecologically-driven management imperative. Increasing waterfowl populations pose a threat to the development and persistence of created wetlands, largely through intensive grazing that can shift vegetation community structure or limit desired plant establishment. This study capitalized on a long-term herbivore exclusion experiment to evaluate how herbivore management impacts carbon cycling and storage in a created wetland in Western New York, USA. Vegetation, above- and belowground biomass, soil carbon, carbon gas fluxes and decomposition rates were evaluated in control plots with free access by large grazers and in plots where grazers had been excluded for four years. Waterfowl were the dominant herbivore at the site. Grazing reduced peak growing season aboveground biomass by over 55%, and during the summer, gross primary productivity doubled in grazer exclusion plots. The shift in plant productivity led to a 34% increase in soil carbon after exclusion of grazers for five growing seasons, but no change in belowground biomass. Our results suggest that grazers may inhibit the development of soil carbon pools during the first decade following wetland creation, reducing the carbon sequestration potential and precluding functional equivalence with natural wetlands. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Celebrating 25 Years of World Wetlands Day)
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Article
Ecological Connectivity in Agricultural Green Infrastructure: Suggested Criteria for Fine Scale Assessment and Planning
Land 2021, 10(8), 807; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10080807 - 31 Jul 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
In promoting biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service capacity, landscape connectivity is considered a critical feature to counteract the negative effects of fragmentation. Under a Green Infrastructure (GI) perspective, this is especially true in rural and peri-urban areas where a high degree of connectivity [...] Read more.
In promoting biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service capacity, landscape connectivity is considered a critical feature to counteract the negative effects of fragmentation. Under a Green Infrastructure (GI) perspective, this is especially true in rural and peri-urban areas where a high degree of connectivity may be associated with the enhancement of agriculture multifunctionality and sustainability. With respect to GI planning and connectivity assessment, the role of dispersal traits of tree species is gaining increasing attention. However, little evidence is available on how to select plant species to be primarily favored, as well as on the role of landscape heterogeneity and habitat quality in driving the dispersal success. The present work is aimed at suggesting a methodological approach for addressing these knowledge gaps, at fine scales and for peri-urban agricultural landscapes, by means of a case study in the Metropolitan City of Rome. The study area was stratified into Environmental Units, each supporting a unique type of Potential Natural Vegetation (PNV), and a multi-step procedure was designed for setting priorities aimed at enhancing connectivity. First, GI components were defined based on the selection of the target species to be supported, on a fine scale land cover mapping and on the assessment of land cover type naturalness. Second, the study area was characterized by a Morphological Spatial Pattern Analysis (MSPA) and connectivity was assessed by Number of Components (NC) and functional connectivity metrics. Third, conservation and restoration measures have been prioritized and statistically validated. Notwithstanding the recognized limits, the approach proved to be functional in the considered context and at the adopted level of detail. Therefore, it could give useful methodological hints for the requalification of transitional urban–rural areas and for the achievement of related sustainable development goals in metropolitan regions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Recent Progress in Urban Forest Planning and Monitoring)
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Article
Spatial Targeting of Agricultural Support Measures: Indicator-Based Assessment of Coverages and Leakages
Land 2021, 10(7), 740; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10070740 - 15 Jul 2021
Cited by 2
Abstract
Agricultural support programs distribute payments to farms based on a diverse set of policy objectives. Adequate targeting of this support to priority areas is key to efficient and effective policy. We evaluated the targeting strategy of a national-level program in Mexico that distributed [...] Read more.
Agricultural support programs distribute payments to farms based on a diverse set of policy objectives. Adequate targeting of this support to priority areas is key to efficient and effective policy. We evaluated the targeting strategy of a national-level program in Mexico that distributed support based on seven criteria that prioritized poor smallholder farming communities at high risk of cropland failure. We used a series of logistic models to assess the coverage and leakage rates of the program’s targeting strategy and found rates of about 80 and 20 percent, respectively. We also found significant differences between the targeting priorities specified in program rules and the observed distribution of support measures. In general, the program favored arid and semi-arid regions at high risk of soil erosion but neglected smallholder farms in high-poverty regions with elevated rates of cropland failure. Our findings highlight the continued lack of financial support for smallholder agriculture in Mexico, despite program rules and priority statements that stress the vulnerability of this sector. This study also illustrates the important role of spatial targeting in better aligning agricultural support payments with stated policy priorities. This alignment is often overlooked in ex-post assessment, but it is critical for improving targeting precision, equity, and overall policy effectiveness. Full article
(This article belongs to the Section Land Socio-Economic and Political Issues)
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Article
High Nature Value Farming Systems and Protected Areas: Conservation Opportunities or Land Abandonment? A Study Case in the Madrid Region (Spain)
Land 2021, 10(7), 721; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10070721 - 08 Jul 2021
Cited by 3
Abstract
European rural landscapes contain high nature value farmlands that, in addition to being the main economic activity in many rural areas, host habitats and species of great conservation value. The maintenance of these farming systems largely depends on traditional ecological knowledge and the [...] Read more.
European rural landscapes contain high nature value farmlands that, in addition to being the main economic activity in many rural areas, host habitats and species of great conservation value. The maintenance of these farming systems largely depends on traditional ecological knowledge and the rural lifestyles of the local populations. However, they have not been sufficiently appreciated and protected, and as a result, they are currently threatened. In this study, which was performed in the Madrid region (central Spain), we analyse the social-ecological changes of the rural landscape after the establishment of a protected natural area network. The obtained results highlight a significant loss of these high nature value farming systems and a marked increase in the rewilding processes characterised by scrub–forest transition and the development of forest systems. These processes are linked to the disruption of the transmission of traditional ecological knowledge, which may imply negative consequences for both the high biocultural diversity that these systems host and the cultural identity and the socioeconomics of the rural populations that live there. A useful methodological tool is provided for social–ecological land planning and the design of effective management strategies for the conservation of rural cultural landscapes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Wildlife Protection and Habitat Management: Practice and Perspectives)
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Article
Assessing the Role of Kettle Holes for Providing and Connecting Amphibian Habitats in Agricultural Landscapes
Land 2021, 10(7), 692; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10070692 - 30 Jun 2021
Abstract
The intensification of agriculture over the last few decades has caused habitat loss, which poses a significant threat to the survival of populations and species. Where habitats are connected, populations may escape the destruction of their habitat by migrating to another one. Consequently, [...] Read more.
The intensification of agriculture over the last few decades has caused habitat loss, which poses a significant threat to the survival of populations and species. Where habitats are connected, populations may escape the destruction of their habitat by migrating to another one. Consequently, the functional connectivity of landscapes has become an important focus for species conservation. Kettle holes are hotspots of biodiversity that provide suitable conditions for wildlife species (i.e., amphibians, insects, aquatic plants) and contribute to landscape heterogeneity. They are also considered to function as stepping stone habitats that contribute to habitat connectivity. This study assesses the contribution of kettle holes for (i) habitat provision and (ii) the functional connectivity of three amphibian species with different movement ranges, and (iii) the study identifies areas where the creation of stepping stone biotopes could improve functional connectivity. The contribution of kettle holes was assessed using GIS-based clustering within three research areas in Germany. It was found that the importance of kettle holes for providing amphibian habitats in the three studied areas was equal to or higher than that of other wetland habitats. The state of functional connectivity and the contribution of kettle holes differed strongly depending on the species’ range. For the short-range species, landscapes were highly fragmented, and the contribution of kettle holes was much smaller than that of corridor habitats. For the long-range species, all habitats suited for amphibian reproduction were connected, and the contribution of kettle holes was similar to that of corridor habitats. However, the contribution of both was mostly redundant. Overall, the results showed that kettle holes play a crucial role in habitat provision and function as important stepping stone biotopes in agricultural landscapes. The clustering method applied in this study provides a simple tool for landscape planning and environmental protection agencies, which can be easily adapted to analyze functional connectivity and habitat interactions for different species or landscapes. Full article
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The Impact of Seasonality and Land Cover on the Consistency of Relationship between Air Temperature and LST Derived from Landsat 7 and MODIS at a Local Scale: A Case Study in Southern Ontario
Land 2021, 10(7), 672; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10070672 - 26 Jun 2021
Cited by 1
Abstract
Land surface temperature (LST) and air temperature (Tair) have been commonly used to analyze urban heat island (UHI) effects throughout the world, with noted variations based on vegetation distribution. This research has compared time series LST data acquired from the Moderate [...] Read more.
Land surface temperature (LST) and air temperature (Tair) have been commonly used to analyze urban heat island (UHI) effects throughout the world, with noted variations based on vegetation distribution. This research has compared time series LST data acquired from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) platforms, Landsat 7 Enhanced Thematic Mapper (ETM+) and Tair from weather stations in the Southern Ontario area. The influence of the spatial resolution, land cover, vegetated surfaces, and seasonality on the relationship between LST and in situ Tair were examined. The objective is to identify spatial and seasonal differences amongst these different spatial resolution LST products and Tair, along with the causes for variations at a localized scale. Results show that MODIS LST from Terra had stronger relationships with Landsat 7 LST than those from Aqua. Tair demonstrated weaker correlations with Landsat LST than with MODIS LST in sparsely vegetated and urban areas during the summer. Due to the winter’s ability to smooth heterogenous surfaces, both LST and Tair showed stronger relationships in winter than summer over every land cover, except with coarse spatial resolutions on forested surfaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spatiotemporal Variations of Land Surface Temperature)
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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
Cited by 2
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
Cited by 6
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
Cited by 5
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
Cited by 3
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
Cited by 6
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
Cited by 4
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
Cited by 2
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
Cited by 5
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
Cited by 1
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 3
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 8
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 10
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
Cited by 2
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
Cited by 4
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 6
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
Cited by 5
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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