Special Issue "Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 December 2019.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Simon Willcock
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
Interests: Adaptation; Climate change; Ecosystem services; Land use/cover change; Migration; Resilience; Tipping points
Dr. Javier Martínez-López
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Soil and Water Conservation Research Group, CEBAS-CSIC, Spanish Research Council, Campus de Espinardo 30100, P.O. Box 164, Murcia, Spain
Interests: climate change; environmental modelling; ecosystem services; remote sensing; landscape ecology
Special Issues and Collections in MDPI journals
Dr. Norman Dandy
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Sir William Roberts Centre for Sustainable Land Use, School of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK
Interests: Forest ecosystem services; Land management practice; Adaptation; Sustainability; Resilience; Plant health; Wildlife management
Prof. James Bullock
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Benson Lane, Wallingford, OX10 8BB, UK
Interests: Ecosystem services; Spatial dynamics; Conservation; Restoration; Agro-ecosystems

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Interest in ecosystem services (ES) surged in the late 90s, with land cover-based benefit transfer methods used to estimate the global value of ecosystem services, causing international debate. Since then, ES research has undoubtedly moved on, but large knowledge gaps remain. When can land cover be used as a proxy for ecosystem service use? What are the links between the biophysical production of ecosystem services and their use? How can we identify who is using which ecosystem services? Do static inputs (e.g. one-off surveys or satellite images) adequately capture dynamic ecosystem service information? Can ecosystem service methods be standardized across landscapes, or do different communities require different methods?

We believe a shift in focus from land cover to land use (both at local and national scales) will help us understand the delivery of ES to society and concomitant synergies/trade-offs in use between beneficiaries and the sustainability of this use. However, to best achieve this shift, many questions need to be answered, for example:

  • What level of land use categorization is appropriate for representing ES?
  • How does land use change affect the scale and magnitude of ES in real time (i.e. rather than assuming an immediate snap to the new land use and ES level)?
  • What information needs to be added to land use to better represent ES variation?
  • How do different cultural and ethical relations to land and its use affect the flow of ecosystem services?

Such advances are necessary if the Sustainable Development Goals are to be achieved by 2030.

This Special Issue aims to provide a collection of papers that critically evaluate the links between observed land use and ES, including but not exclusive to the questions raised above. We welcome manuscripts from all disciplines (including both the natural and social sciences) and using a variety of methods (i.e. from in-depth case studies to global models).

Dr. Simon Willcock
Dr. Javier Martínez-López
Dr. Norman Dandy
Prof. James Bullock
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.

Keywords

  • beneficiary
  • benefit transfer
  • ecosystem service
  • land cover
  • land use
  • sustainable development goals

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

Open AccessArticle
Linking Arable Crop Occurrence with Site Conditions by the Use of Highly Resolved Spatial Data
Land 2019, 8(4), 65; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8040065 - 18 Apr 2019
Abstract
Agricultural land use is influenced in different ways by local factors such as soil conditions, water supply, and socioeconomic structure. We investigated at regional and field scale how strong the relationship of arable crop patterns and specific local site conditions is. At field [...] Read more.
Agricultural land use is influenced in different ways by local factors such as soil conditions, water supply, and socioeconomic structure. We investigated at regional and field scale how strong the relationship of arable crop patterns and specific local site conditions is. At field scale, a logistic regression analysis for the main crops and selected site variables detected, for each of the analyzed crops, its own specific character of crop–site relationship. Some crops have diverging site relations such as maize and wheat, while other crops show similar probabilities under comparable site conditions, e.g., oilseed rape and winter barley. At the regional scale, the spatial comparison of clustered variables and clustered crop pattern showed a slightly stronger relationship of crop combination and specific combinations of site variables compared to the view of the single crop–site relationship. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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Open AccessArticle
Valuing Our National Parks: An Ecological Economics Perspective
Land 2019, 8(4), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8040054 - 29 Mar 2019
Abstract
The annual budget for the United States National Park Service was roughly $3 billion in 2016. This is distributed amongst 405 National Parks, 23 national scenic and historic trails, and 60 wild and scenic rivers. Entrance fees and concessions generate millions of dollars [...] Read more.
The annual budget for the United States National Park Service was roughly $3 billion in 2016. This is distributed amongst 405 National Parks, 23 national scenic and historic trails, and 60 wild and scenic rivers. Entrance fees and concessions generate millions of dollars in income for the National Park Service; however, this metric fails to account for the total value of the National Parks. In failing to consider the value of the ecosystem services provided by the National Parks, we fail to quantify and appreciate the contributions our parks make to society. This oversight allows us to continue to underfund a valuable part of our natural capital and consequently damage our supporting environment, national heritage, monetary economy, and many of our diverse cultures. We explore a simple benefits transfer valuation of the United States’ national parks using National Land Cover Data from 2011 and ecosystem service values determined by Costanza et al. This produces an estimate suggesting the parks provide $98 billion/year in ecosystem service value. If the natural infrastructure ‘asset’ that is our national park system had a budget comparable to a piece of commercial real estate of this value, the annual budget of the National Park Service would be roughly an order of magnitude larger at something closer to $30 billion rather than $3 billion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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Planned Papers

The below list represents only planned manuscripts. Some of these manuscripts have not been received by the Editorial Office yet. Papers submitted to MDPI journals are subject to peer-review.

Title: Social-ecological perspectives on the interactions between land use, conservation and climate change in an East African savanna ecosystem
Authors: Rebecca Kariuki 1,2,*, Simon Willcock 3 and Rob Marchant 1
Affiliation: 1 York Institute for Tropical Ecosystems, Environment Department, University of York, Heslington, York, YO10 5NG, United Kingdom
2 School of Life Sciences and Bio-Engineering, The Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, P.O. Box 447, Arusha, Tanzania
3 School of Environment, Natural Resources and Geography, Bangor University, Deiniol Road, Bangor, Gwynedd, LL57 2UW, United Kingdom
* Corresponding author’s email: [email protected]
Abstract: Assessing land use change patterns in East African savannas requires understanding the complex relationship between the biophysical, ecological, political and socio-economic factors that shape these ecosystems. We combine social perspectives with agent based modelling to assess key land use change drivers in semi-arid savannas of southern Kenya and the consequences of land use changes on ecosystem services. Rainfall variability and socio-economic development drove land use types in these savannas, while livestock grazing land use increased wildlife density and agriculture reduced wildlife density. These findings have utility for the sustainable management and planning of semi-arid savannas ecosystems in East Africa.
Key words: Amboseli, community perspectives, Maasai Mara, modelling, land tenure, climate, land-use, sedentarisation

Title: Biologically-Driven Proxies for Ecosystem Services: Linking Species and Traits with Service Supply
Authors: Matthew Scowen, James Bullock, Felix Eigenbrod, Ioannis Athanasiadis and Simon Willcock
Abstract: Ecosystem services are produced from complex socio-environmental systems; interactions between biological species, human activity and the abiotic environment. The biological component of these systems is poorly understood and so assessment of ecosystem service often uses land-cover as a proxy. This disassociates it from underlying biological processes and results in a high level of uncertainty. This study reviews the capacity to use machine learning identify links between ecosystem services and the species and traits from which they derive. We show that state-of-the-art remote sensing technologies now allow social-ecological data collection beyond simply land cover and this may lead to a great process-based understanding of how ecosystem services are generated and used.

Title: Connecting sources and beneficiaries of Ecosystem Services in developed countries
Authors: Rachel Dolan, James Bullock, Julia Jones and Simon Willcock
Abstract: Studies exploring ecosystem services and land use in developing countries can often show direct links between an area and product/service used by a community. In developed countries this link can be harder to establish due to complex trade networks and the areas that produce services being physically disconnected from the areas that use them. This can make it hard to establish the value of a service when it is unclear who makes use of it and why they make that choice. Only by developing an understanding of land use, can we fully quantify and value ecosystem services. Here we review how issue has been addressed and use these findings to suggest how to better inform policies that aim to reward land managers for providing goods used by the public.

Title: Towards detecting the impacts of land-use change on ecosystem services using plant functional traits?
Authors: Ryan Blanchard, Patrick O’Farrell, David Richardson
Abstract:Plant diversity and the functional composition of communities therein underpin the various ecosystem processes and services provided. However, enhancing provisioning services through the transformation of natural ecosystems, to provide food and fuel, can lead to tradeoffs with regulating ecosystem services generated by natural systems, such as nutrient cycling. These land-use changes also require the introduction of “key non-native” species resulting in changes to the dominant vegetation community. In this study we test the recently developed conceptual framework linking ecosystem functioning and plant traits to determine the effect of land-use change within an ecosystem service hotspot in the grasslands of the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Leaf traits (leaf dry matter content, leaf nitrogen content and leaf phosphorous content) were used to characterise the functional composition of the landscape and to illustrate the difference between four land-uses. The findings show that trait diversity was greatly reduced when natural systems were converted to different land-uses. Differences between native and exotic traits could be ascribed to traits of individual species as well as the abundance weighted mean value of traits within communities. Although non-native and native trait values were well spread, differences between the two groups could only be determined for leaf nitrogen content. The effect of non-native species on ecosystem services was inconclusive largely due to differences in scale. Given that grassland ecosystems have been significantly modified worldwide, this approach may provide some insight into the many challenges in integrating ecosystem services into landscape planning, management and to facilitate the future design thereof. The addition of non-native species to enhance provisioning services was shown to alter the trait composition and the functional characteristics of natural systems. Shifts in functional composition, through the addition of species (e.g. biofuel crops) may be used to identify potential changes to ecosystem services. We also discuss the relationships between ecosystem services measured at coarse scales and the links to plant diversity at a local scale.
Keywords: land-use, plant functional traits, ecosystem services, impact, functional diversity indices, biofuel, invasive alien plants

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