Special Issue "Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas"

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

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2021) | Viewed by 15440

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Special Issue Editors

Dr. Mónica de Castro-Pardo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Financial & Actuarial Economics and Statistics-Statistic and Operational Research, Campus de Somosaguas-28223-Pozuelo de Alarcón, Complutense University of Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Interests: protected areas; ecosystem services; Multi-Criteria decision making (MCDM); data envelopment analysis (DEA); goal programming (GP)
Prof. Dr. Joao C. Azevedo
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Escola Superior Agrária/Centro de Investigação de Montanha (CIMO), Instituto Politécnico de Bragança, Campus de Santa Apolónia, 5300-253 Braganca, Portugal
Interests: forest landscape ecology; forest landscape sustainability; ecosystem services; sustainable forest bioenergy; mountain sustainability
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Pascual Fernández
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Applied Economics I and History and Economic Institutions, Faculty of Law and Social Sciences, University Rey Juan Carlos-Spain, C/ Tulipan. 28933 Móstoles, Madrid, Spain
Interests: water; land; national parks; environmental services

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Enhancing social and economic development while preserving nature is one of the major challenges for humankind in the current century. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment showed an alarming degradation of ecosystems and exacerbated poverty for many groups of people across the world due to unprecedented changes in ecosystems caused by human activities in the 20th century. Sustainable Rural Development is key to maintaining active local communities in rural and semi-natural areas, avoiding depopulation, and preserving high-ecological-value sites, including protected areas. Designation of an area as a ‘protected’ area is the first strategy applied to conserve biodiversity around the world, as it ensures the supply of ecosystem services. However, depending how it affects economic opportunities and the access to natural resources, it can either attract or repel human settlements. The convergence of development and conservation requires decision-making processes capable of aligning the needs and expectations of rural communities and the goals of biodiversity conservation. However, the complexity and multi-functionality of rural socioecological systems make decision-making in these areas difficult. Therefore, it is crucial to develop innovative strategies, approaches, methods, and models to jointly improve the welfare of rural communities and achieve the objectives of nature conservation. The purpose of this Special Issue is to invite academics and researchers to submit proposals for papers oriented to enhancing the sustainable rural development and protection of natural areas. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:

  • evaluation methods and techniques for supporting choices in sustainable land planning in rural areas;
  • criteria and indicators for sustainable rural development;
  • criteria and indicators for monitoring ecosystem services in protected areas;
  • innovative models for identifying and solving conflicts between groups of stakeholders;
  • innovative tools for land planning and management in protected and other conservation areas;
  • strategies for improving the sustainable supply of ecosystem services in rural areas; and
  • protection, management, and safeguarding of natural areas.

Dr. Mónica de Castro-Pardo
Dr. Joao C. Azevedo
Dr. Pascual Fernández
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 submissions that pass pre-check are 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

  • sustainable rural development
  • ecosystem services
  • protected areas
  • land use policy
  • natural parks
  • governance of socioecological systems
  • human–nature conflicts

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas
Land 2021, 10(10), 1008; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10101008 - 26 Sep 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 676
Abstract
Enhancing social and economic development while preserving nature is one of the most significant challenges for humankind in the current century [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)

Research

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Article
Examining Linkages among Livelihood Strategies, Ecosystem Services, and Social Well-Being to Improve National Park Management
Land 2021, 10(8), 823; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10080823 - 06 Aug 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 956
Abstract
This research examines perceptions of ecosystem services (ES) and social well-being in the Wuyishan National Park, China. This study analyses the importance of and linkages between them based on the impact of new designation of protected areas on this social-ecological system. Realisation of [...] Read more.
This research examines perceptions of ecosystem services (ES) and social well-being in the Wuyishan National Park, China. This study analyses the importance of and linkages between them based on the impact of new designation of protected areas on this social-ecological system. Realisation of rural well-being is critical to park-people relations in populated protected areas, and effective resolution is needed to achieve positive conservation outcomes. We conducted 372 structured interviews with community members with different livelihood strategies. Key findings from the research include: (1) the importance of provisioning (e.g., tea, rice, timber) and cultural ES (e.g., local culture, eco-tourism) is related to both current livelihood necessity and future development pursuit. (2) The perceived material well-being is higher than spiritual well-being, and high social well-being is closely related to high-income groups and those that think highly of cultural services, i.e., those engaged in non-agricultural activities (e.g., tourism) and tea cultivation. (3) Cultural values are better preserved in tea and rice cultivation and tourism, but in general, they are not incorporated to improve social well-being. The results suggest that Protected area (PA) management of local communities must seek cultural valorisation for differentiated livelihood strategies for rural people’s sustainable livelihood and stability of the social-ecological system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)
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Article
To What Extent Are Cattle Ranching Landholders Willing to Restore Ecosystem Services? Constructing a Micro-Scale PES Scheme in Southern Costa Rica
Land 2021, 10(7), 709; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10070709 - 05 Jul 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1211
Abstract
Deforestation and the unsustainable management of agricultural and livestock production systems in tropical mountain areas have caused fragmented and degraded landscapes. Payment for ecosystem services (PES) could be an effective policy instrument with which to reduce deforestation and restore disturbed ecosystems. The national-scale [...] Read more.
Deforestation and the unsustainable management of agricultural and livestock production systems in tropical mountain areas have caused fragmented and degraded landscapes. Payment for ecosystem services (PES) could be an effective policy instrument with which to reduce deforestation and restore disturbed ecosystems. The national-scale PES program in Costa Rica is recognized as being successful; however, its financial resources have been mostly dedicated to forest protection, and much less to reforestation projects. This paper aims to construct a micro-scale PES scheme by using primary data generated through spatial modeling and socio-economic and stated preference surveys (choice experiment) in southern Costa Rica. The results suggest that, on average, landholders would agree to implement restoration projects on their own private pasturelands if an appropriate holistic place-based approach was applied encompassing biophysical, social, economic, and institutional aspects. Willingness-to-accept values allow payments to be linked to cattle farmers’ estimates of specific ecosystem services (ES) and land opportunity costs. The economic valuation of three ESs (erosion control, water availability, and biodiversity) allows construction of a layered payment scheme, which could encourage the development of a potential partnership between national and local institutions and NGOs as alternative buyers of ESs, reduce transaction costs, and improve household well-being. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)
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Article
Co-Management of Protected Areas: A Governance System Analysis of Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland
Land 2021, 10(7), 681; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10070681 - 28 Jun 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1331
Abstract
Land allocated to protected areas (PA) is expanding as are expectations about the services these areas deliver. There is a need to advance knowledge on PA governance systems, like co-management, recognising that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. We analyse the co-management governance system [...] Read more.
Land allocated to protected areas (PA) is expanding as are expectations about the services these areas deliver. There is a need to advance knowledge on PA governance systems, like co-management, recognising that there is no “one-size-fits-all” solution. We analyse the co-management governance system and performance of Vatnajökull National Park (VNP), Iceland. We adapt an analytical framework from the literature on environmental governance and analyse its governance system, hence actor roles, institutional arrangements and interactions. Our findings illustrate that the co-management structure was an outcome of political negotiations and a response to the lack of legitimacy of its predecessors; resulting in a tailor-made governance system set out in park-specific legislation. Although the performance is quite positive, being adaptive to changes, inclusive, promoting rural development and an appreciated facilitator of devolution and power-sharing, it has come with challenges. It has encountered problems delineating responsibilities among its actors, causing conflict and confusion; in settling conflicting localised issues close to local stakeholders, there have been capacity issues. We argue that the VNP co-management system is fit for its purpose, aligned with Icelandic land-use governance structures but in need of systematic improvements. There are important lessons as Iceland seeks to expand its PA estate and beyond, since the global community is setting ambitious policy goals to expand site-based conservation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)
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Article
An Easy Mixed-Method Analysis Tool to Support Rural Development Strategy Decision-Making for Beekeeping
Land 2021, 10(7), 675; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10070675 - 26 Jun 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 922
Abstract
The EU has long-recognised the functions and contributions of beekeeping in sustainable rural area development. In 2018, the EU adopted the Pollinator Initiative to strengthen its pollinator conservation policies. To support the design of effective rural development actions, this work describes and tests [...] Read more.
The EU has long-recognised the functions and contributions of beekeeping in sustainable rural area development. In 2018, the EU adopted the Pollinator Initiative to strengthen its pollinator conservation policies. To support the design of effective rural development actions, this work describes and tests an easy-to-apply, mixed-method tool for use with SWOT analysis. A two-step methodology was trialled with beekeepers in Piedmont Region (NW Italy). In step one, two independent groups of beekeepers operating in separate protected and intensive agricultural areas completed a SWOT matrix. In step two, three expert panels (beekeeper association leaders, honey market organisation leaders, and entomologists) prioritised the effects of the SWOT items with a quantitative weighting and rating process. Results suggest that the sector needs better-targeted incentives and that ‘soft’ policies on extension, advisory, and institutional measures could play a relevant role. The method was also confirmed as suitable for use with non-expert evaluators, such as policy officers and practitioners. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)
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Article
Analysis of Replicability of Conservation Actions across Mediterranean Europe
Land 2021, 10(6), 598; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060598 - 04 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1061
Abstract
In the Regional Park of Las Salinas and Arenales of San Pedro del Pinatar, in southeastern Spain, an environmental restoration and conservation project is being developed whose principle actions include adaptation of hillocks with a saline substrate to improve the reproduction habitat of [...] Read more.
In the Regional Park of Las Salinas and Arenales of San Pedro del Pinatar, in southeastern Spain, an environmental restoration and conservation project is being developed whose principle actions include adaptation of hillocks with a saline substrate to improve the reproduction habitat of aquatic birds and increasing the production of salt, dune restoration and conservation, protection of the first dune ridge through the collection of seagrass tops, and designing and implementation of a salt quality seal, which may be useful for reproduction in other sites in the Natura 2000 network, especially in the European Mediterranean area and in the Black Sea environment. The objective of this research study was to analyse and locate the sites that could possibly replicate the actions of the project. In order to do this, spatial databases were used from the Natura 2000 network, salt flats, and marshes as well as Ramsar sites and SPAMI sites, and from them a shape file of points was created in the places with the presence of maritime dunes associated with marsh systems/salt flats. One hundred thirty-one sites in the Natura 2000 network were located, of which in 105 cases, one or more of the four actions considered in this research study can be replicated. Of these, 24 cases have active or recently abandoned salt flats in which the two main actions of the project can be replicated, and 11 of these sites meet characteristics for the replicability of the four actions, of which three have not been implemented by the LIFE projects developed on those sites. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)
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Article
Comprehensive Evaluation and Quantitative Research on the Living Protection of Traditional Villages from the Perspective of “Production–Living–Ecology”
Land 2021, 10(6), 570; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060570 - 28 May 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1184
Abstract
Aiming at the current isolated, static protection method of traditional villages, a comprehensive evaluation system for the living protection of traditional villages has been constructed based on the land use function integration concept in “Production–Living–Ecology” (PLE). By combining the “horizontal” PLE coupling coordination [...] Read more.
Aiming at the current isolated, static protection method of traditional villages, a comprehensive evaluation system for the living protection of traditional villages has been constructed based on the land use function integration concept in “Production–Living–Ecology” (PLE). By combining the “horizontal” PLE coupling coordination analysis with the “vertical” correlation analysis of the elements at each layer, the comprehensive evaluation and quantitative analysis of six traditional villages of different types and grades in the Taihu Lake area are carried out to quantitatively reflect the interactive relationship and integration mechanism of PLE in traditional villages. The results show that: (1) The PLE development of traditional villages is a dynamic process. Even if the villages are close in the PLE score, they may be in different stages of PLE development and coupling coordination type. (2) The “living” function has the highest correlation with the coupling coordination degree of PLE, and it acts as the engine and bridge of benign interaction between the PLE. (3) Even if the national traditional villages have a favorable ecology background, they may not get high scores, or even fail in the PLE score. (4) Among the sub-indicators, the natural environmental characteristics, the ecological vitality of political organizations, and the level of human settlement facilities show a significant linear correlation with the PLE score. Additionally, the ecological vitality of political organizations is the strongest. It can be therefore concluded that a positive policy organization is an important guarantee for realizing the PLE integration of traditional villages. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)
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Article
Impact of Sustainable Cultural Contact, Natural Atmospherics, and Risk Perception on Rural Destination Involvement and Traveler Behavior in Inner Mongolia
Land 2021, 10(6), 568; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10060568 - 28 May 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1429
Abstract
Rural tourism is emerging in the tourism industry; however, little is known about traveler behaviors at rural destinations. This study explored the role of cultural contact, natural atmospherics, and risk perception in generating destination involvement and approach behaviors for rural tourism in Inner [...] Read more.
Rural tourism is emerging in the tourism industry; however, little is known about traveler behaviors at rural destinations. This study explored the role of cultural contact, natural atmospherics, and risk perception in generating destination involvement and approach behaviors for rural tourism in Inner Mongolia. A quantitative data analysis was used to obtain the research objective. Our findings showed that cultural contact and natural atmospherics significantly increased traveler destination involvement and their approach behaviors. Cultural contact included a stronger impact on destination involvement than natural atmospherics. In contrast, natural atmospherics contained a stronger influence on approach behaviors than cultural contact. In addition, rural traveler risk perception moderated the magnitude of the effect of cultural contact on approach behaviors. Overall, the proposed theoretical framework encompassed a sufficient level of anticipation power for involvement and approach behaviors. Our findings can be helpful for inventing rural tourism development strategies in Inner Mongolia. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)
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Article
Following Rural Functions to Classify Rural Sites: An Application in Jixi, Anhui Province, China
by
Land 2021, 10(4), 418; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040418 - 15 Apr 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 909
Abstract
Rural areas are a type of self-organized regional living environment, with multi-functional symbiosis between humans and land; their functional attributes are function superposition, function difference, and dominant function. The evolution of rural functions is a gradual process and follows the general law of [...] Read more.
Rural areas are a type of self-organized regional living environment, with multi-functional symbiosis between humans and land; their functional attributes are function superposition, function difference, and dominant function. The evolution of rural functions is a gradual process and follows the general law of the development of self-organizing systems, which evolutes from the state of general development, competition without rules, and, finally, to an order controlled by the dominant function. By constructing an indicator system and measurement model of rural function evaluation, this study took 11 towns in a hilly area of Jixi County as regional units to analyze the differentiation characteristics and rules of rural functions; the functions include agricultural production functions, nonagricultural production functions, life and leisure functions, and ecological functions. The results show the following: (1) The index of agricultural production functions, life and leisure functions, and ecological functions in Jixi County is higher, while the index of nonagricultural production functions is lower; (2) all towns have at least one function belongings to the “high state strong potential zone”, and some towns show a weak comprehensiveness; (3) the interaction between different functions should be considered when determining the dominant functions of the towns; (4) the formation mechanism of a dominant function has a high correlation with its main influencing factors; and (5) nine types of characteristic village are determined, according to the coupling of village characteristic resources and town dominant functions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)
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Article
Simulating Agroforestry Adoption in Rural Indonesia: The Potential of Trees on Farms for Livelihoods and Environment
Land 2021, 10(4), 385; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10040385 - 07 Apr 2021
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1531
Abstract
In recent years, agroforestry has gained increasing attention as an option to simultaneously alleviate poverty, provide ecological benefits, and mitigate climate change. The present study simulates small-scale farmers’ agroforestry adoption decisions to investigate the consequences for livelihoods and the environment over time. To [...] Read more.
In recent years, agroforestry has gained increasing attention as an option to simultaneously alleviate poverty, provide ecological benefits, and mitigate climate change. The present study simulates small-scale farmers’ agroforestry adoption decisions to investigate the consequences for livelihoods and the environment over time. To explore the interdependencies between agroforestry adoption, livelihoods, and the environment, an agent-based model adjusted to a case study area in rural Indonesia was implemented. Thereby, the model compares different scenarios, including a climate change scenario. The agroforestry system under investigation consists of an illipe (Shorea stenoptera) rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) mix, which are both locally valued tree species. The simulations reveal that farmers who adopt agroforestry diversify their livelihood portfolio while increasing income. Additionally, the model predicts environmental benefits: enhanced biodiversity and higher carbon sequestration in the landscape. The benefits of agroforestry for livelihoods and nature gain particular importance in the climate change scenario. The results therefore provide policy-makers and practitioners with insights into the dynamic economic and environmental advantages of promoting agroforestry. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)
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Review

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Review
Dealing with Water Conflicts: A Comprehensive Review of MCDM Approaches to Manage Freshwater Ecosystem Services
Land 2021, 10(5), 469; https://doi.org/10.3390/land10050469 - 30 Apr 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1135
Abstract
This paper presents a comprehensive review of the application of Multiple-Criteria Decision-Making (MCDM) approaches exclusively to water-related freshwater ecosystem services. MCDM analysis has been useful in solving conflicts and it works well in this framework, given the serious conflicts historically associated with water [...] Read more.
This paper presents a comprehensive review of the application of Multiple-Criteria Decision-Making (MCDM) approaches exclusively to water-related freshwater ecosystem services. MCDM analysis has been useful in solving conflicts and it works well in this framework, given the serious conflicts historically associated with water use and the protection of freshwater ecosystems around the world. In this study, we present a review of 150 papers that proposed the use of MCDM-based methods for the social, economic, or ecological planning and management of water ecosystem services over the period 2000–2020. The analysis accounts for six elements: ecosystem service type, method, participation, biogeographical realm, waterbody type, and problem to solve. A Chi-square test was used to identify dependence between these elements. Studies involving the participation of stakeholder groups adopted an integrated approach to analysing sustainable water management, considering provisioning, regulating, and cultural services. However, such studies have been in decline since 2015, in favour of non-participatory studies that were strictly focused on ecological and provisioning issues. Although this reflects greater concern for the health of freshwater ecosystems, it is a long way removed from the essence of ecosystem services, which entails an integrated approach to the interrelationships between hydrology, landscapes, ecology, and humans. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)
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Review
Applying Geomorphic Principles in the Design of Mountain Biking Singletracks: Conceptual Analysis and Mathematical Modeling
Land 2020, 9(11), 442; https://doi.org/10.3390/land9110442 - 11 Nov 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1260
Abstract
Mountain biking, also known as singletracking, is an emerging sector in outdoor recreation activities. Experience shows that although bicycling is considered a low-impact activity, singletracking may have adverse environmental footprints. Here, we review and conceptually analyze the forces applied on singletracks, and implement [...] Read more.
Mountain biking, also known as singletracking, is an emerging sector in outdoor recreation activities. Experience shows that although bicycling is considered a low-impact activity, singletracking may have adverse environmental footprints. Here, we review and conceptually analyze the forces applied on singletracks, and implement mathematical modeling of these forces, for a range of climatic conditions and geographic settings. Specifically, we focus on the hydrological and geomorphic impacts of singletracking, and highlight the importance of applying geomorphic principles in their design. Also, we demonstrate specific measures for establishing singletracks on hillslopes and in ephemeral stream channels. We discuss how climate, topography, surface roughness, hydrological connectivity, and pedology determine the processes of water runoff and soil erosion on singletrack trails. Further, we demonstrate how riders’ behavior determines the rate of shearing, wearing, compaction, deformation, and rutting of the singletrack, as well as the expansion of physical damages to the track’s surroundings. These conditions and effects determine the durability of singletracks, with implications for maintenance requirements over time. The specific implications of the emerging sector of electric mountain bikes on singletrack durability are discussed. Insights of this paper will benefit landscape designers and land managers aiming to foster ecotourism and sustainable recreation opportunities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Ecosystem Services, Sustainable Rural Development and Protected Areas)
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