Special Issue "Towards the Sustainable Management of Ecosystem Services in Social-Ecological Systems"

A special issue of Land (ISSN 2073-445X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Mr. Martin Schultze
Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Geosciences and Geography, Dept. Sustainable Landscape Development, University of Halle, Von-Seckendorff-Platz 4, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany
Interests: social-ecological systems; multi-scale processes in landscape ecology; integrated land-use planning
Prof. Dr. Christine Fürst
Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Geosciences and Geography, Dept. Sustainable Landscape Development, University of Halle, Von-Seckendorff-Platz 4, 06120 Halle (Saale), Germany
Interests: integrated land-use planning; participatory planning; impact assessment
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Mrs. Ulfia A. Lenfers

Guest Editor
Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, Dept. of Computer Science, Berliner Tor 7, 20099 Hamburg, Germany
Interests: multi-agent simulation; conceptional modelling; partial order; complexity; savanna ecosystems
Prof. Dr. Martin Volk
Website
Guest Editor
Department for Computational Landscape Ecology, Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research - UFZ, Leipzig, Germany
Interests: Natural Resources Management, Integrated River Basin Management, Scale-appropriate Modelling, Multi-objective Optimization, Trade-Offs, Synergies, Ecosystem Serives, Sustainability, Hydrology, Soil Erosion

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The understanding of how to implement sustainable land management in the context of social–ecological systems is essential to ensure healthy ecosystems. Despite significant progress in characterizing coupled human–nature interactions, the impact of management practices at different scales is still poorly understood. While management decisions are related to individual experiences, desires or abilities, decision-making is nested within hierarchical structures, such as farming and forestry, regional planning or policy making. This creates conflicts between socio-cultural, political-economic and environmental goals leading to high risks for soil degradation, crop reduction and livestock productivity and restricting future demand for water provision or land conversation.

Recent advances in modelling techniques have led to address multi-scale processes that drive social-ecological systems. This indicates a cornerstone for analyzing the impacts of management decisions on ecosystem services as spatially explicit information is fundamental to avoid spatial discrepancies in ecosystem services provision or management induced disservices. However, existing modelling approaches differ significantly in their intention, scale, scope, drivers and the involvement of stakeholders.

In this Special Issue we aim at investigating: (1) how the concept of social-ecological systems can be better exploited to simulate and assess the impacts of management, planning and governance decisions at multiple scales, (2) what kind of integrated models are most appropriate to bridge scales between local needs and global changes, and (3) which analytical approaches are useful to address human-environmental interactions along transects in systems that stretch from urban to peri-urban, as well as rural environments. We intend to showcase particularly the benefits of transdisciplinary approaches that connect modelling techniques with local knowledge. Encouraged are contributions focusing on methodological and technical advances in data exploitation to proxy human-environmental interactions or processes. This also includes papers that take into account innovative indicators for tipping-points in the sustainable management of social-ecological systems.

Mr. Martin Schultze
Prof. Dr. Christine Fürst
Mrs. Ulfia A. Lenfers
Prof. Dr. Martin Volk
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Land is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Mapping the Loss of Ecosystem Services in a Region Under Intensive Land Use Along the Southern Coast of South Africa
Land 2019, 8(3), 51; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8030051 - 21 Mar 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Intensive land use activities worldwide have caused considerable loss to many ecosystem services. The dynamics of these threats must be quickly investigated to ensure timely update of management strategies and policies. Compared with complex models, mapping approaches that use scoring matrices to link [...] Read more.
Intensive land use activities worldwide have caused considerable loss to many ecosystem services. The dynamics of these threats must be quickly investigated to ensure timely update of management strategies and policies. Compared with complex models, mapping approaches that use scoring matrices to link land use/land cover and landscape properties with ecosystem services are relatively efficient and easier to apply. In this study, scoring matrices are developed and spatially explicit assessments of five ecosystem services, such as erosion control, water flow regulation, water quality maintenance, soil quality maintenance, and biodiversity maintenance, are conducted for a region under intense land use along the southern coast of South Africa. The complex interaction of land use/land cover and ecosystem services within a particular landscape is further elucidated by performing a spatial overview of the high-risk areas that contribute to the loss of ecosystem services. Results indicate that both agricultural activities and urban development contribute to the loss of ecosystem services. This study reveals that with sufficient knowledge from previous literature and inputs from experts, the use of scoring matrices can be adapted to different regional characteristics. This approach can be improved by adding additional landscape properties and/or adapting the matrix values as new data become available. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Water Tourism: A New Strategy for the Sustainable Management of Water-Based Ecosystems and Landscapes in Extremadura (Spain)
Land 2019, 8(1), 2; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8010002 - 29 Dec 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Water is an important element for the conservation of ecosystems and for human wellbeing. Recently, there has been a loss of awareness about the value of this resource, which requires scientific and practical action to encourage the rise of a new cultural attitude [...] Read more.
Water is an important element for the conservation of ecosystems and for human wellbeing. Recently, there has been a loss of awareness about the value of this resource, which requires scientific and practical action to encourage the rise of a new cultural attitude regarding water. Tourism gives water resources great potential, because it facilitates the development of such attractive resources, combining their protection with respectful use. However, studies that have explored the water tourism–territory relationship are still scarce. The objective of this work is to explore the current, touristic use of the aquifer sites in the Spanish region of Extremadura in order to determine whether these practices have the potential to generate new sensitivity about the value of water and its importance in socioeconomic development and environmental conservation. This research uses qualitative and quantitative methodologies, obtaining results that confirm the strategic role of water in the proper management of ecosystems and for the enhancement of human wellbeing. The empirical results show the beginning of a change in water-based tourism from both a supply- and demand-side perspectives. The conclusions suggest potential new measures that will facilitate a better understanding of the value of water, enhance the quality of life for everyone, and safeguard ecosystems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Assessing Nature-Based Recreation to Support Urban Green Infrastructure Planning in Trento (Italy)
Land 2018, 7(4), 112; https://doi.org/10.3390/land7040112 - 27 Sep 2018
Cited by 6
Abstract
Nature-based recreation is among the most relevant ecosystem services supplied by urban green infrastructure, affecting citizens’ physical and mental wellbeing. Providing adequate green spaces for nature-based recreation is among the main goals of urban planning, but commonly-used indicators offer a partial view on [...] Read more.
Nature-based recreation is among the most relevant ecosystem services supplied by urban green infrastructure, affecting citizens’ physical and mental wellbeing. Providing adequate green spaces for nature-based recreation is among the main goals of urban planning, but commonly-used indicators offer a partial view on the issue. Innovative methods and approaches, such as the ESTIMAP-recreation model, appear as promising ways to increase the quality of information available for decision-makers by considering both the range of green spaces that provide the service and the locally-specific demand. The article presents an application of the ESTIMAP-recreation model to the city of Trento (Italy), aimed at testing its adaptation to the local context and the potential improvements brought to urban planning. The comparison of the results with traditional indicators based on the availability and accessibility to urban parks shows significant differences in terms of priority of intervention across the city, with implications on planning decisions. The application demonstrates that innovative methods can enhance the understanding of nature-based recreation in cities beyond the focus on urban parks, revealing a wide portfolio of actions that planners can put in place to promote nature-based recreation through a multifunctional green infrastructure. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of Tourism in the Ecosystem Services Framework
Land 2018, 7(3), 111; https://doi.org/10.3390/land7030111 - 18 Sep 2018
Cited by 4
Abstract
The Ecosystem Services Framework (ESF) is a powerful tool for understanding the relationship between nature and society, and tourism is an important expression of this. However, the scientific literature focusing on the relationship between tourism and the ESF is limited. Hence, there is [...] Read more.
The Ecosystem Services Framework (ESF) is a powerful tool for understanding the relationship between nature and society, and tourism is an important expression of this. However, the scientific literature focusing on the relationship between tourism and the ESF is limited. Hence, there is a need to bring the tourism research community and the ESF together, not only as a cultural service but as an economic sector that consumes natural resources. This paper aims to do this by analyzing discourse on tourism in institutional reports produced by the ESF. Additionally, how the tourism research community has approached the ESF is analyzed by reviewing the literature that has used it and literature addressing nature-based tourism. The results suggest a “schizophrenic” approach to tourism, which is defined as either a cultural ES (nonmaterial) or as a nature-based industry (consumptive). Moreover, a disconnect has been found between tourism research and the ESF. The tourism research community may not feel comfortable with the inaccurate definition of tourism in the ESF and may prefer to use freer terms. However, the aforementioned community should integrate the ESF within their studies on natural resources. At the same time, the ESF should be more accurate in using tourism-related concepts. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
A Differentiated Spatial Assessment of Urban Ecosystem Services Based on Land Use Data in Halle, Germany
Land 2018, 7(3), 101; https://doi.org/10.3390/land7030101 - 30 Aug 2018
Cited by 7
Abstract
Urban ecosystem services (ES) contribute to the compensation of negative effects caused by cities by means of, for example, reducing air pollution and providing cooling effects during the summer time. In this study, an approach is described that combines the regional biotope and [...] Read more.
Urban ecosystem services (ES) contribute to the compensation of negative effects caused by cities by means of, for example, reducing air pollution and providing cooling effects during the summer time. In this study, an approach is described that combines the regional biotope and land use data set, hemeroby and the accessibility of open space in order to assess the provision of urban ES. Hemeroby expresses the degree of naturalness of land use types and, therefore, provides a differentiated assessment of urban ES. Assessment of the local capacity to provide urban ES was conducted with a spatially explicit modeling approach in the city of Halle (Saale) in Germany. The following urban ES were assessed: (a) global climate regulation, (b) local climate regulation, (c) air pollution control, (d) water cycle regulation, (e) food production, (f) nature experience and (g) leisure activities. We identified areas with high and low capacity of ES in the urban context. For instance, the central parts of Halle had very low or no capacity to provide ES due to highly compact building styles and soil sealing. In contrast, peri-urban areas had particularly high capacities. The potential provision of regulating services was spatially limited due to the location of land use types that provide these services. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Firewood Collection in South Africa: Adaptive Behavior in Social-Ecological Models
Land 2018, 7(3), 97; https://doi.org/10.3390/land7030097 - 15 Aug 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Due to the fact that the South Africa’s savanna landscapes are under changing conditions, the previously sustainable firewood collection system in rural areas has become a social-ecological factor in questions about landscape management. While the resilience of savannas in national parks such as [...] Read more.
Due to the fact that the South Africa’s savanna landscapes are under changing conditions, the previously sustainable firewood collection system in rural areas has become a social-ecological factor in questions about landscape management. While the resilience of savannas in national parks such as Kruger National Park (KNP) in South Africa has been widely acknowledged in ecosystem management, the resilience of woody vegetation outside protected areas has been underappreciated. Collecting wood is the dominant source of energy for rural households, and there is an urgent need for land management to find sustainable solutions for this complex social-ecological system. However, the firewood collection scenario is only one example, and stands for all “human-ecosystem service” interactions under the topic of over-utilization, e.g., fishery, grazing, harvesting. Agent-based modeling combined with goal-oriented action planning (GOAP) can provide fresh insights into the relationship between individual needs of humans and changes in land use. At the same time, this modeling approach includes adaptive behavior under changing conditions. A firewood collection scenario was selected for a proof-of-concept comprising households, collectors, ecosystem services and firewood sites. Our results have shown that, even when it is predictable what a single human agent will do, massive up-scaling is needed in order to understand the whole complexity of social-ecological systems. Under changing conditions, such as climate and an increasing population, fair distribution of natural goods become an important issue. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Improving the Matrix-Assessment of Ecosystem Services Provision—The Case of Regional Land Use Planning under Climate Change in the Region of Halle, Germany
Land 2018, 7(2), 76; https://doi.org/10.3390/land7020076 - 13 Jun 2018
Cited by 2
Abstract
Against the background of climate change, current and future provision of ecosystem services (ES) will also change. The recording of current provision potentials and its development in future is important for adapted regional planning. ES assessments are frequently carried out in the context [...] Read more.
Against the background of climate change, current and future provision of ecosystem services (ES) will also change. The recording of current provision potentials and its development in future is important for adapted regional planning. ES assessments are frequently carried out in the context of expert-based surveys, which have, however, revealed little information to date about uncertainties. We present a novel approach that combines the ES matrix assessment with the Delphi approach, confidence ratings, standardized confidence levels, and scenario assessment. First, the most important ES and their current and future provision potentials were identified by expert-based surveys in the study region, Halle (Saale) in Germany. Secondly, land use scenarios under climate change were developed that maintain the most important ES. The scenarios were assessed by the experts. Our study showed that the relevance of food as a provisioning ES, as well as spiritual values and recreational/landscape beauty as cultural ES, is high. A high level of acceptance was achieved by the afforestation scenario. Integration of the Delphi approach, confidence ratings, and confidence levels into the ES matrix assessment is an appropriate combination for estimating uncertainties in expert-based knowledge, thus contributing to the uncertainty assessment in regional planning. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Contribution of Traditional Farming to Ecosystem Services Provision: Case Studies from Slovakia
Land 2018, 7(2), 74; https://doi.org/10.3390/land7020074 - 12 Jun 2018
Cited by 5
Abstract
The main aim of this study is to assess the benefits provided by the ecosystems of traditional agricultural landscapes (TAL) and compare them to the outputs of large-scale agriculture. Assessment of ecosystem services (ES) was performed in four case-study areas situated in Slovakia, [...] Read more.
The main aim of this study is to assess the benefits provided by the ecosystems of traditional agricultural landscapes (TAL) and compare them to the outputs of large-scale agriculture. Assessment of ecosystem services (ES) was performed in four case-study areas situated in Slovakia, representing different types of TAL: Viticultural landscape, meadow–pasture landscape, and agricultural landscape with dispersed settlements and mosaics of orchards. The methodological approach was focused on assessment of all the principal types of ES—regulation and maintenance, provisioning, and cultural. Differences in the provision of ES due to the impact of different practices and intensities of agricultural landscape management were subsequently assessed and compared. The results show that TAL are generally more diverse and balanced regarding ES provision, mainly because of their varied patterns and their related functions. In particular they play an important role in water retention and the prevention of soil erosion—both important with respect to changes in climate. Modern intensive agriculture is principally able to fulfil the production functions. Support for traditional farming, landscape diversification and small-scale agricultural management is vital for enhancing the values of rural regions. Such measures could become key drivers for sustainable agricultural management in Slovakia, and elsewhere. Full article
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