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

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 April 2021).

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, Collections and Topics 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. Dr. 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. Dr. 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 2000 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 (12 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
High Spatial-Temporal Resolution Data across Large Scales Are Needed to Transform Our Understanding of Ecosystem Services
Land 2021, 10(7), 759; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10070759 - 19 Jul 2021
Viewed by 565
Abstract
Many assessments of ecosystem services (ESs; nature’s contribution to people [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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Research

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Article
Evidence of Similarities in Ecosystem Service Flow across the Rural-Urban Spectrum
Land 2021, 10(4), 430; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040430 - 17 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 992
Abstract
In 2006, the world’s population passed the threshold of being equally split between rural and urban areas. Since this point, urbanisation has continued, and the majority of the global population are now urban inhabitants. With this ongoing change, it is likely that the [...] Read more.
In 2006, the world’s population passed the threshold of being equally split between rural and urban areas. Since this point, urbanisation has continued, and the majority of the global population are now urban inhabitants. With this ongoing change, it is likely that the way people receive benefits from nature (ecosystem services; ES) has also evolved. Environmental theory suggests that rural residents depend directly on their local environment (conceptualised as green-loop systems), whereas urban residents have relatively indirect relationships with distant ecosystems (conceptualised as red-loop systems). Here, we evaluate this theory using survey data from >3000 households in and around Hyderabad, India. Controlling for other confounding socioeconomic variables, we investigate how flows of 10 ES vary across rural, peri-urban and urban areas. For most of the ES we investigated, we found no statistical differences in the levels of direct or indirect use of an ecosystem, the distance to the ecosystem, nor the quantities of ES used between rural and urban residents (p > 0.05). However, our results do show that urban people themselves often travel shorter distances than rural people to access most ES, likely because improved infrastructure in urban areas allows for the transport of ES from wider ecosystems to the locality of the beneficiaries’ place of residence. Thus, while we find some evidence to support red-loop–green-loop theory, we conclude that ES flows across the rural-urban spectrum may show more similarities than might be expected. As such, the impact of future urbanisation on ES flows may be limited, because many flows in both rural and urban areas have already undergone globalisation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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Article
Changes in Land-Use and Ecosystem Service Value in Guangdong Province, Southern China, from 1990 to 2018
Land 2021, 10(4), 426; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040426 - 16 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 789
Abstract
Land-use/cover is one of the major factors that affect the ecosystem and the services it provides. The impact of land-use change on ecosystem service value is a hotspot in developing countries, especially China—a region with rapid economic development and rapid population growth. As [...] Read more.
Land-use/cover is one of the major factors that affect the ecosystem and the services it provides. The impact of land-use change on ecosystem service value is a hotspot in developing countries, especially China—a region with rapid economic development and rapid population growth. As the leading area of China’s reform and opening-up, Guangdong province in southern China is subjected to land-use conversion that significantly alters the capacity of natural ecosystem to provide ecosystem services supporting human well-being. We analyzed the characteristics of land-use changes from 1990 to 2018 using the four-phase land-use data interpreted from Landsat satellite images. We estimated the ecosystem service value through a well-established benefit transfer method using modified local value coefficients, analyzed the trade-offs and synergies among ecosystem services through ecosystem service trade-off degree, and compared the relationship between ecosystem services value, economic development, and population in Guangdong province. The results indicated that the following: (1) Built-Up Area drastically expanded from 6783.1 km2 in 1990 to 13,142.0 km2 in 2018 (93.7%), especially in the Pearl River Delta, where the growth rate of Built-Up Area expansion was up to 169.0%. The other land-use types were all contracted as Cropland (−10.9%), Forestland (−1.0%), Grassland (−4.0%), Water Body (−2.1%), and Unused Land (−24.4%). (2) Total ecosystem service value decreased from US$121,666 billion in 1990 to US$116,432 billion in 2018 (−4.3%). Cropland, Forestland, and Water Body played the most important roles for the total ecosystem service value. Water supply experienced the largest declines in ecosystem services value (US$ −1866.3 million, −10.1%), followed by waste treatment (7.6%) and gas regulation (−4.9%). (3) Synergy was the dominant relationship among ecosystem services. The above results can not only serve as reference case for other provinces/regions/countries/ to carry out relevant research work but also provide much focus on land-use planning to manage the impacts of land-use change on regional ecosystem services function. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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Article
Bundles and Hotspots of Multiple Ecosystem Services for Optimized Land Management in Kentucky, United States
Land 2021, 10(1), 69; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010069 - 14 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1053
Abstract
Ecosystem services are benefits that the natural environment provides to support human well-being. A thorough understanding and assessment of these services are critical to maintain ecosystem services flow through sustainable land management to optimize bundles of ecosystem services provision. Maximizing one particular ecosystem [...] Read more.
Ecosystem services are benefits that the natural environment provides to support human well-being. A thorough understanding and assessment of these services are critical to maintain ecosystem services flow through sustainable land management to optimize bundles of ecosystem services provision. Maximizing one particular ecosystem service may lead to reduction in another. Therefore, identifying ecosystem services tradeoffs and synergies is key in addressing this challenge. However, the identification of multiple ecosystem services tradeoffs and synergies is still limited. A previous study failed to effectively capture the spatial interaction among ecosystem services as it was limited by “space-to-time” substitution method used because of temporal data scarcity. The study was also limited by using land use types in creating ecosystem services, which could lead to some deviations. The broad objective of this study is therefore to examine the bundles and hotspots of multiple ecosystem services and their tradeoffs in Kentucky, U.S. The study combined geographic data and spatially-explicit models to identify multiple ecosystem services bundles and hotspots, and determined the spatial locations of ecosystem services hotspots. Results showed that the spatial interactions among ecosystem services were very high: of the 21 possible pairs of ecosystem services, 17 pairs were significantly correlated. The seven ecosystem services examined can be bundled into three groups, geographically clustered on the landscape. These results support the hypothesis that some groups of ecosystem services provision can present similar spatial patterns at a large mesoscale. Understanding the spatial interactions and bundles of the ecosystem services provides essential information for evidence-based sustainable land management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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Article
Assessing Interactions between Agriculture, Livestock Grazing and Wildlife Conservation Land Uses: A Historical Example from East Africa
Land 2021, 10(1), 46; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10010046 - 06 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1272
Abstract
Despite mobile livestock grazing being widely recognized as one of the most viable and sustainable land uses for semi-arid savanna, which can deliver clear wildlife conservation benefits, the levels of pastoral sedentarization and transitions to agricultural livelihoods continue to rise in many pastoral [...] Read more.
Despite mobile livestock grazing being widely recognized as one of the most viable and sustainable land uses for semi-arid savanna, which can deliver clear wildlife conservation benefits, the levels of pastoral sedentarization and transitions to agricultural livelihoods continue to rise in many pastoral communities across the world. Using questionnaire interviews with community elders, our study assessed changing trends in livestock grazing, wildlife conservation, and sedentarization levels from the 1960s to the present day across three savannas in southern Kenya. Our study identified the drivers of land uses and land subdivision and the implications of land use change on savanna ecology. Over the last half century, there has been a 30% decline in livestock grazing land in southern Kenya due to the expansion of land for agriculture and wildlife conservation. Despite the decline, livestock grazing remains the preferred land use in subdivided and privatized lands. Pastoralist land used for wildlife conservation was perceived to be higher (30%) in southwestern Kenya compared to southeastern Kenya (16%), despite their geographical proximity. These historical insights provide useful lessons for maintaining space for wildlife, diversifying livelihoods, and increasing the resilience of pastoralists in the process of transitioning from traditional subsistence to market economies and the threats of social and ecological dislocation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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Article
Exploring Linkages between Supporting, Regulating, and Provisioning Ecosystem Services in Rangelands in a Tropical Agro-Forest Frontier
Land 2020, 9(12), 511; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9120511 - 11 Dec 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1445
Abstract
Rangeland management in former tropical rainforest areas may affect ecosystem services. We hypothesized that management practices like burning and overgrazing reduce supporting (soil quality) and consequently also provisioning (forage productivity and quality) and regulating (nutrient cycling) ecosystem services. We established 31 exclosures in [...] Read more.
Rangeland management in former tropical rainforest areas may affect ecosystem services. We hypothesized that management practices like burning and overgrazing reduce supporting (soil quality) and consequently also provisioning (forage productivity and quality) and regulating (nutrient cycling) ecosystem services. We established 31 exclosures in two landscape categories (alluvial soils, low-hills), documented management practices, and assessed 18 soil quality indicators, litter decomposition as a proxy for nutrient cycling, and forage quantity and quality during one year in grasslands of the Lacandon region, southeast Mexico. Path analysis was used to explore direct and indirect effects of livestock management practices on soil-based ecosystem services. Landscape position had direct effects on management practices, and direct and indirect effects on soil properties. Altitude (a proxy for the soil catena, ranging from alluvial soils along the Lacantún river to Cambisols and Acrisols in the low-hills) was the variable showing most significant negative relations with soil quality and forage production. Decomposition rate was site-specific and had no relation with landscape position and management. Our study suggests that position on the landscape, which relates to nutrient and water availability, had stronger effects than management practices on forage productivity and quality and drives farmers management practices. Full article
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Article
Uncovering Ecosystem Services of Expropriated Land: The Case of Urban Expansion in Bahir Dar, Northwest Ethiopia
Land 2020, 9(10), 395; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9100395 - 19 Oct 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1024
Abstract
In Ethiopia, urban expansion happens at high rates and results in land expropriations often at the cost of agriculture and forests. The process of urban expansion does not include assessment of ecosystem services (ES). This has been causing unintended environmental problems. This study [...] Read more.
In Ethiopia, urban expansion happens at high rates and results in land expropriations often at the cost of agriculture and forests. The process of urban expansion does not include assessment of ecosystem services (ES). This has been causing unintended environmental problems. This study aims to uncover ES of three most important land use types (cropland, agroforestry, and grassland) that are threatened by land expropriation for urban expansion in Bahir Dar City. The study applied a participatory approach using community perception and expert judgments (N = 108). Respondents were asked to locate their perceptions on the use of 35 different ES, and then to evaluate the potential of the land use. Respondents were shown to have the ability to differentiate between ES and land use in terms of their potential to deliver ES. The results show that agroforestry is expected to have a high relevant potential to deliver 31% of all ES, but cropland 20% and grassland 14%. Food, fodder, timber, firewood, fresh water, energy, compost, climate regulation, erosion prevention, and water purification and treatment were identified as the ten most important services. It is not only the provisioning services that are being supplied by the land use types which are expropriated for urbanization, but also regulating, supporting and cultural services. To ensure sustainable urban land development, we suggest the consideration of the use of ES and the potential of the land use to supply ES when making land use decisions, including land expropriation for urban expansion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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Article
Assessing Changes in Ecosystem Service Values over 1985–2050 in Response to Land Use and Land Cover Dynamics in Abaya-Chamo Basin, Southern Ethiopia
Land 2020, 9(2), 37; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9020037 - 27 Jan 2020
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 2212
Abstract
This study evaluated the effect of Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) dynamics on the value of ecosystem services in Abaya-Chamo basin over 1985–2050. The main objectives of the study were to estimate the value of ecosystem services of Abaya-Chamo basin using local [...] Read more.
This study evaluated the effect of Land Use and Land Cover (LULC) dynamics on the value of ecosystem services in Abaya-Chamo basin over 1985–2050. The main objectives of the study were to estimate the value of ecosystem services of Abaya-Chamo basin using local and global ecosystem service value coefficients, assess how it changes over time, and develop tools to inform policy and public decision-making to protect lands and waters in the region. The study utilized observed (1985 and 2010) and predicted (2030 and 2050) LULC datasets and ecosystem service value coefficients obtained from publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. The results indicated that the total ecosystem service value of Abaya-Chamo basin was 12.13 billion USD in 1985 and 12.45 billion USD in 2010. The value is predicted to increase to 12.47 billion USD by the year 2050, which is 2.84% (344.5 million USD) higher than the total value of ecosystem services of the basin in 1985. Although the total ecosystem service value of the basin showed a slight increase over the study period, it was observed that the total value of services obtained from natural ecosystems is expected to decline by 36.24% between 1985 and 2050. The losses of services obtained from natural ecosystems, such as water regulation and erosion control, are major concern as the consequence has already been reported in the basin in the form of reduced water quality and productivity of the lakes due to an increased soil erosion and sediment transport in the basin. Therefore, special attention should be given to the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystems and the protection of remaining natural vegetation and water bodies to enhance natural capital and ecosystem services in the basin. A large-scale dissemination of eco-agricultural land use practices, which provide multiple ecosystem services (such as agroforestry and heterogeneous agricultural areas) in the basin, needs to be considered in the future. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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Article
Economic Value of Cultural Ecosystem Services from Recreation in Popa Mountain National Park, Myanmar: A Comparison of Two Rapid Valuation Techniques
Land 2019, 8(12), 194; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8120194 - 14 Dec 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2387
Abstract
Protected areas offer diverse ecosystem services, including cultural services related to recreation, which contribute manifold to human wellbeing and the economy. However, multiple pressures from other human activities often compromise ecosystem service delivery from protected areas. It is thus fundamental for effective management [...] Read more.
Protected areas offer diverse ecosystem services, including cultural services related to recreation, which contribute manifold to human wellbeing and the economy. However, multiple pressures from other human activities often compromise ecosystem service delivery from protected areas. It is thus fundamental for effective management to understand the recreational values and visitor behaviors in such areas. This paper undertakes a rapid assessment of the economic value of cultural ecosystem services related to recreation in a national park in Myanmar using two valuation techniques, the individual travel cost method (TCM) and the Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessment (TESSA v.1.2). We focus on the Popa Mountain National Park, a protected area visited by approximately 800,000 domestic and 25,000 international tourists annually. Individual TCM estimates that each domestic visitor spent USD 20–24 per trip, and the total annual recreational value contributed by these visitors was estimated at USD 16.1–19.6 million (USD 916–1111 ha−1). TESSA estimated the annual recreational expenditure from domestic and international visitors at USD 15.1 million (USD 858 ha−1) and USD 5.04 million (USD 286 ha−1), respectively. Both methods may be employed as practical approaches to assess the recreational values of protected areas (and other land uses with recreational value), and they have rather complementary approaches. We recommend that both techniques be combined into a single survey protocol. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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Article
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
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1356
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
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Article
Valuing Our National Parks: An Ecological Economics Perspective
Land 2019, 8(4), 54; https://doi.org/10.3390/land8040054 - 29 Mar 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2564
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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Review

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Review
The Flows of Nature to People, and of People to Nature: Applying Movement Concepts to Ecosystem Services
Land 2021, 10(6), 576; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060576 - 29 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1013
Abstract
To date, the provision of ecosystem services has largely been estimated based on spatial patterns of land cover alone, using benefit transfer analysis. Although it is increasingly being recognised that the distribution of the human population affects whether a potential service translates into [...] Read more.
To date, the provision of ecosystem services has largely been estimated based on spatial patterns of land cover alone, using benefit transfer analysis. Although it is increasingly being recognised that the distribution of the human population affects whether a potential service translates into a realised service, this misses key steps in the process and assumes that everyone accesses ecosystem services in the same way. Here we describe a conceptual approach to ecosystem services in terms of movement and flows. We highlight that ecosystem service flows can be broken down into ‘nature to people’ (the movement of nature towards beneficiaries) and ‘people to nature’ (the movement of beneficiaries towards nature). The former has been relatively well described. Here, we explore the latter by reviewing research on human migration, animal foraging and landscape connectivity. We assess if and how existing theories might be useful in describing how people seek out ecosystem services. We consider some of the ways in which flows of people to nature can be measured. Such measurements may reveal which movement theories best represent how people seek out and access ecosystem services. Overall, our review aims to improve the future modelling of ecosystem services by more explicitly considering how people access potential services and therefore realise them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Exploring the Relationships between Land Use and Ecosystem Services)
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