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Special Issue "Defining and Assessing Landscape and Urban Sustainability: Linking Spatial Patterns, Ecosystems Services, and Human Wellbeing"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Use of the Environment and Resources".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 December 2017)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Jianguo (Jingle) Wu

School of Life Sciences, School of Sustainability, and Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University, P.O. Box 874501, Tempe, AZ 85287-4501, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: landscape ecology; urban ecology; biodiversity and ecosystem functioning; sustainability science (ecosystem services and human well-being)

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainability is the theme of our time, and must be achieved on local, regional, and global scales for the persistence and prosperity of humanity. But local scales are frequently too small to adequately consider key environmental, economic, and social processes, while the global scale is often too large to conduct mechanistic studies that link biodiversity, ecosystem function, ecosystem services, socioeconomic processes, institutional dynamics, and human wellbeing, which is required to produce actionable science and policy-relevant knowledge. Therefore, landscapes and regions represent a pivotal scale domain for developing the science and promoting the practice of sustainability.

This Special Issue aims to help advance the science and practice of sustainability on landscape and regional scales—including large natural areas, agricultural/grazing landscapes, urban landscapes, metropolitan regions, and coupled human–environment systems in different sociocultural settings around the world. Three kinds of papers will be included in this Special Issue: (1) Theory and principles of landscape sustainability, urban sustainability, and regional sustainability, which link spatial patterns, ecosystems services, and human wellbeing; (2) Indicator- and model-based assessment of sustainability on landscape and regional scales; and (3) Design and planning studies that can guide sustainability policy-making and practices on the ground. Papers that integrate two of the three aspects or all of them are particularly welcome. To ensure the quality and impact of the Special Issue, each and every manuscript must show an adequate awareness of the primary literature on sustainability science, landscape sustainability, and urban sustainability, and discuss specific case studies in a broader sustainability context. Also, each manuscript will be peer-reviewed rigorously by at least two established scientists in relevant fields.

Prof. Dr. Jianguo (Jingle) Wu
Guest Editor

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. Sustainability 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 1400 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

  • Landscape ecology and sustainability
  • Landscape sustainability science
  • Urban sustainability
  • Coupled human–environmental systems
  • Linking biodiversity, ecosystem services and human wellbeing
  • Sustainability assessment
  • Sustainability indicators and indices
  • Sustainable landscape design and planning

Published Papers (18 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle Regenerative Development as an Integrative Paradigm and Methodology for Landscape Sustainability
Sustainability 2018, 10(6), 1910; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10061910
Received: 1 April 2018 / Revised: 30 May 2018 / Accepted: 5 June 2018 / Published: 7 June 2018
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Abstract
Although the integration of sustainability, ecology, and design has been recognized as necessary by scientists and practitioners, most transdisciplinary frameworks are not inclusive of the worldviews, paradigms, aims, processes, and components necessary for sustainability. Landscape sustainability science helps to focus scientist, scholar, practitioner,
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Although the integration of sustainability, ecology, and design has been recognized as necessary by scientists and practitioners, most transdisciplinary frameworks are not inclusive of the worldviews, paradigms, aims, processes, and components necessary for sustainability. Landscape sustainability science helps to focus scientist, scholar, practitioner, and stakeholder efforts toward sustainability at a pivotal level; however, collaboration and progress have been slow. Significant potential exists for design to be an integrative and transformational methodology toward landscape sustainability, yet it has not fulfilled this ambitious role. In this paper, we first build a case for regenerative development, a development and design methodology based on an ecological worldview, as an integrative platform for a new paradigm. This new paradigm, which we call regenerative landscape development, has the potential to thoroughly catalyze a shift toward regenerative sustainability. We then detail this new paradigm as a process that could continually enhance the capacities of living systems to increase health, well-being, and happiness. Next, to illustrate regenerative development in practice, we provide brief case studies of projects in Viña del Mar, Chile and Juluchuca, Guerrero, Mexico. Finally, we propose future recommendations and precautions in the construction of regenerative landscape development as a new paradigm. If fully understood, embraced, and realized, regenerative development holds incredible potential for a sustainable future. Full article
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Open AccessArticle “What Kind of a Science is Sustainability Science?” An Evidence-Based Reexamination
Sustainability 2018, 10(5), 1478; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10051478
Received: 8 April 2018 / Revised: 27 April 2018 / Accepted: 1 May 2018 / Published: 8 May 2018
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Abstract
Sustainability science (SS), rooted in multiple disciplines, has been developing rapidly during the last two decades and become a well-recognized new field of study. However, the “identity” of SS remains unclear. Therefore, this study was intended to help synthesize the key characteristics of
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Sustainability science (SS), rooted in multiple disciplines, has been developing rapidly during the last two decades and become a well-recognized new field of study. However, the “identity” of SS remains unclear. Therefore, this study was intended to help synthesize the key characteristics of SS by revisiting the question raised by the leading sustainability scientist, Robert Kates (2011): “What kind of a science is sustainability science?” Specifically, we reviewed the literature in SS, and developed a synthesis of definitions and core research questions of SS, using multiple methods including change-point detection, word cloud visualization, and content and thematic analyses. Our study has produced several main findings: (1) the development of SS exhibited an S-shaped growth pattern, with an exponential growth phase through to 2012, and a asymptotic development phase afterwards; (2) ten key elements from the existing definitions of SS were identified, of which understanding “human–environment interactions” and “use-inspired” were most prominent; and (3) sixteen core questions in SS were derived from the literature. We further proposed an eight-theme framework of SS to help understand how the sixteen questions are related to each other. We argue that SS is coming of age, but more integrative and concerted efforts are still needed to further consolidate its identity by developing a coherent and rigorous scientific core. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Quantifying Surface Coal-Mining Patterns to Promote Regional Sustainability in Ordos, Inner Mongolia
Sustainability 2018, 10(4), 1135; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10041135
Received: 20 March 2018 / Revised: 6 April 2018 / Accepted: 7 April 2018 / Published: 10 April 2018
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Abstract
Ordos became the new “coal capital” of China within a few decades since the country’s economic reform in 1978, as large-scale surface coal mining dramatically propelled its per capita GDP from being one of the lowest to one of the highest in China,
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Ordos became the new “coal capital” of China within a few decades since the country’s economic reform in 1978, as large-scale surface coal mining dramatically propelled its per capita GDP from being one of the lowest to one of the highest in China, exceeding Hong Kong in 2009. Surface coal-mining areas (SCMAs) have continued to expand in this region during recent decades, resulting in serious environmental and socioeconomic consequences. To understand these impacts and promote regional sustainability, quantifying the spatiotemporal patterns of SCMAs is urgently needed. Thus, the main objectives of this study were to quantify the spatiotemporal patterns of SCMAs in the Ordos region from 1990 to 2015, and to examine some of the major environmental and socioeconomic impacts in the study region. We extracted the SCMAs using remote-sensing data, and then quantified their spatiotemporal patterns using landscape metrics. The loss of natural habitat and several socioeconomic indicators were examined in relation to surface coal mining. Our results show that the area of SCMAs increased from 7.12 km2 to 355.95 km2, an increase of nearly 49 times from 1990 to 2015 in the Ordos region. The number of SCMAs in this region increased from 82 to 651, a nearly seven-fold increase. In particular, Zhungeer banner (an administrative division), Yijinhuoluo banner, Dongsheng District and Dalate banner in the north-eastern part of the Ordos region had higher growth rates of SCMAs. The income gap between urban and rural residents increased along with the growth in SCMAs, undermining social equity in the Ordos region. Moreover, the rapid increase in SCMAs resulted in natural habitat loss (including grasslands, forests, and deserts) across this region. Thus, we suggest that regional sustainability in Ordos needs to emphasize effective measures to curb large-scale surface coal mining in order to reduce the urban–rural income gap, and to restore degraded natural ecosystems. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Disentangling the Complex Effects of Socioeconomic, Climatic, and Urban Form Factors on Air Pollution: A Case Study of China
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 776; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030776
Received: 30 December 2017 / Revised: 10 February 2018 / Accepted: 8 March 2018 / Published: 12 March 2018
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Abstract
China’s tremendous economic growth during the past three decades has resulted in worsening air quality in most of its cities. However, the spatiotemporal patterns and underlying drivers of air pollution in China remain poorly understood. To address this issue, we used stepwise regression
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China’s tremendous economic growth during the past three decades has resulted in worsening air quality in most of its cities. However, the spatiotemporal patterns and underlying drivers of air pollution in China remain poorly understood. To address this issue, we used stepwise regression to identify major socioeconomic, climatic, and urban form factors influencing air pollution in 69 major cities across China. Our results showed that social factors such as population size and density were positively correlated with emissions of PM2.5, PM10, NOx, and SO2. Economic factors such as Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and GDP of secondary industry were positively correlated with industry and transportation emissions but negatively correlated with residential emissions of air pollutants. Urban form attributes such as measures of urban fragmentation and contiguity were important in explaining patterns of emissions from residential, power generation, and transportation sectors. As for climatic factors, higher precipitation, higher wind speed, and higher temperatures were all negatively correlated with air pollution levels. We also found that the effects of socioeconomic, climatic, and urban from factors on air pollution levels varied considerably among seasons and between the annual and seasonal scales. Our findings have useful implications for urban planning and management for controlling air pollution in China and beyond. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Within-Class and Neighborhood Effects on the Relationship between Composite Urban Classes and Surface Temperature
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 645; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030645
Received: 27 December 2017 / Revised: 7 February 2018 / Accepted: 24 February 2018 / Published: 28 February 2018
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Abstract
Understanding the relationship between urban structure and ecological function—or environmental performance—is important for the planning of sustainable cities, and requires examination of how components in urban systems are organized. In this paper, we develop a Structure of Urban Landscape (STURLA) classification, identifying common
[...] Read more.
Understanding the relationship between urban structure and ecological function—or environmental performance—is important for the planning of sustainable cities, and requires examination of how components in urban systems are organized. In this paper, we develop a Structure of Urban Landscape (STURLA) classification, identifying common compositions of urban components using Berlin, Germany as a case study. We compute the surface temperature corresponding to each classification grid cell, and perform within-cell and neighborhood analysis for the most common composite classes in Berlin. We found that with-class composition and neighborhood composition as well as the interaction between them drive surface temperature. Our findings suggest that the spatial organization of urban components is important in determining the surface temperature and that specific combinations, such as low-rise buildings surrounded by neighborhood trees, or mid-rise buildings surrounded by high-rise buildings, compound to create a cooling effect. These findings are important for developing an understanding of how urban planning can harness structure-function relationships and improve urban sustainability. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Spatiotemporal Patterns of Desertification Dynamics and Desertification Effects on Ecosystem Services in the Mu Us Desert in China
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 589; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030589
Received: 30 December 2017 / Revised: 13 February 2018 / Accepted: 23 February 2018 / Published: 26 February 2018
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Abstract
Degradation of semi-arid and arid ecosystems due to desertification is arguably one of the main obstacles for sustainability in those regions. In recent decades, the Mu Us Desert in China has experienced such ecological degradation making quantification of spatial patterns of desertification in
[...] Read more.
Degradation of semi-arid and arid ecosystems due to desertification is arguably one of the main obstacles for sustainability in those regions. In recent decades, the Mu Us Desert in China has experienced such ecological degradation making quantification of spatial patterns of desertification in this area an important research topic. We analyzed desertification dynamics for seven periods from 1986 to 2015 and focused on five ecosystem services including soil conservation, water retention, net primary productivity (NPP), crop productivity, and livestock productivity, all assessed for 2015. Furthermore, we examined how ecosystem services relate to each other and are impacted by desertification. Three major conclusions are drawn from the study. First, the eastern part of the study area experienced overall improvement while desertification in the west first increased and then reversed its trend during those periods between 1986 and 2015. Second, significant synergistic relationships are observed for three regulating services (soil conservation, water retention, NPP) and two provisioning services (crop productivity and livestock productivity). Strong relationships across different types of ecosystem services were found only between crop productivity and NPP. Third, in response to increasing desertification, the three regulating services exhibit a monotonically decreasing trend, while the two provisioning services follow a hump-shaped response. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Evaluating Urban Quality: Indicators and Assessment Tools for Smart Sustainable Cities
Sustainability 2018, 10(3), 575; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10030575
Received: 22 December 2017 / Revised: 20 February 2018 / Accepted: 23 February 2018 / Published: 25 February 2018
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (4790 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The analysis of urban sustainability is key to urban planning, and its usefulness extends to smart cities. Analyses of urban quality typically focus on applying methodologies that evaluate quality objectives at environmental, urban, and building levels. Research has shown that a system of
[...] Read more.
The analysis of urban sustainability is key to urban planning, and its usefulness extends to smart cities. Analyses of urban quality typically focus on applying methodologies that evaluate quality objectives at environmental, urban, and building levels. Research has shown that a system of indicators can be useful for developing qualitative and quantitative descriptors of urban environments. The first step in this study was to formulate a methodology to measure the quality of urban life based on investigative checklists and objective and subjective indicators, aggregated to develop an index to evaluate a city’s level of smart urban quality. The second step was to apply this methodology to evaluate the city of Cagliari (Italy) at the neighbourhood scale, which is considered by literature the most suitable as a self-sufficient spatial unit for showing redevelopment results. In addition to sharing its research findings, this study aims to verify whether the methodology can be applied to similar urban contexts. The main outcomes of this research pertain to opportunities to numerically measure both objective and subjective aspects that affect urban quality. In this way, the most critical areas to be requalified have been highlighted in order to prepare policies congruent with the local context. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Exploring the Strengths and Limits of Strong and Weak Sustainability Indicators: A Case Study of the Assessment of China’s Megacities with EF and GPI
Sustainability 2018, 10(2), 349; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10020349
Received: 30 December 2017 / Revised: 21 January 2018 / Accepted: 24 January 2018 / Published: 30 January 2018
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Abstract
The perspective of strong/weak sustainability has a great impact on sustainability assessment. In this study, two most widely used indices, Ecological Footprint (EF) and Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) for strong and weak sustainability assessment, were employed to evaluate the sustainability of China’s ten
[...] Read more.
The perspective of strong/weak sustainability has a great impact on sustainability assessment. In this study, two most widely used indices, Ecological Footprint (EF) and Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI) for strong and weak sustainability assessment, were employed to evaluate the sustainability of China’s ten megacities between 1978 and 2015. The results showed that the ecological footprint had been enlarged in the past twenty years; while the genuine economic welfare started to increase since 2005. The cities of Xi’an, Chengdu, Chongqing, and Shanghai met the threshold of below 2.5 global hectares for EF/capita, and over 3000 dollars/capita (in 2010 US$) for GPI/capita. By analyzing and comparing the characteristics, the processes and results, and the complementary features of evaluation methods of EF and GPI, the research suggested that: (1) Strong and weak sustainability indicators, with their own pros/cons in sustainability assessment, should be used carefully; (2) Weak sustainability indicators could be analyzed from the perspective of strong sustainability; (3) Strong sustainability indicators need to be developed urgently. The results in this study could guide the selection of sustainability indicators, and help interpret the results of sustainability assessment. Full article
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Open AccessCommunication Non-Market Food Provision and Sharing in Japan’s Socio-Ecological Production Landscapes
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 213; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010213
Received: 29 December 2017 / Revised: 11 January 2018 / Accepted: 14 January 2018 / Published: 16 January 2018
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Abstract
Socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes (SEPLS) are characterized by a dynamic mosaic of different ecosystem types that maintain relatively high biodiversity and produce a bundle of ecosystem services. One unique characteristic of SEPLS is the sharing of provisioning services within and beyond communities,
[...] Read more.
Socio-ecological production landscapes and seascapes (SEPLS) are characterized by a dynamic mosaic of different ecosystem types that maintain relatively high biodiversity and produce a bundle of ecosystem services. One unique characteristic of SEPLS is the sharing of provisioning services within and beyond communities, such as forests, agricultural and marine products. Conventional ecosystem assessments based on statistical data often ignore the benefits of these non-market provisioning services. This short communication quantifies the contribution of the sharing of food provisioning services in Japan in terms of their amount and variety, and it analyzes the relationship between such sharing practices and landscape types. Using an online web survey, we investigated the benefits of sharing goods and services provided from SEPLS. In both mountainous and flat agricultural areas, 16% of the total food amount came from non-market sources, compared to 10% in urbanized areas. Farmland and forests had significant positive correlations with most non-market food items in terms of amount. Greater amounts of built-up area in the landscape were associated with a lesser amount of non-market food provision. Food sharing culture can contribute to enhancing resilience against socio-economic changes and natural disasters. This study provides baseline information for monitoring the hidden flow of food provision and its multiple functions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Variations of Ecosystem Service Value in Response to Land-Use Change in the Kashgar Region, Northwest China
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 200; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010200
Received: 10 October 2017 / Revised: 2 January 2018 / Accepted: 10 January 2018 / Published: 15 January 2018
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Abstract
Increasing anthropogenic activities have significantly altered ecosystems in arid oasis regions. Estimating the impact on a wide range of ecosystem services is important for decision making and the sustainable development of these regions. This study analyzed time-series Landsat data to determine the influences
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Increasing anthropogenic activities have significantly altered ecosystems in arid oasis regions. Estimating the impact on a wide range of ecosystem services is important for decision making and the sustainable development of these regions. This study analyzed time-series Landsat data to determine the influences of oasis land-use changes on the ecosystem services in the Kashgar region in Northwest China. The following results were found. The total value of the ecosystem services in the Kashgar region were approximately $10,845.3, $11,218.6, $10,291.7, and $10,127.3 million in 1986, 1996, 2005, and 2015, respectively. The water supply, waste treatment, biodiversity protection, and recreation and cultural services were the four ecosystem services with the highest service value, contributing 77.05% of the total ecosystem services. The combined contribution rate of food production and raw material value was only about 4.02%, relatively small. The sensitivity analysis indicated that the estimated total ecosystem service value (ESV) for this study area was relatively inelastic with respect to the value coefficients. The findings of this study will be crucial for maintaining the stability and sustainable development of the oasis region, where socio-economic development and the integrity of the natural ecosystem complement each other. Furthermore, the results provide a scientific basis for decision makers in land use management, and provide a reference for researchers in the Northwest China. Full article
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Open AccessArticle A Framework of Payment for Ecosystem Services to Protect Cropland: A Case Study of the Yangtze River Delta in China
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 178; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010178
Received: 5 December 2017 / Revised: 3 January 2018 / Accepted: 8 January 2018 / Published: 12 January 2018
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Abstract
Due to large land demand and insufficient economic incentives, stakeholders have little motivation to protect cropland during rapid urbanization. The considerable loss of cropland poses a serious threat to food security and ecological sustainability. This research proposes a framework of payment for ecosystem
[...] Read more.
Due to large land demand and insufficient economic incentives, stakeholders have little motivation to protect cropland during rapid urbanization. The considerable loss of cropland poses a serious threat to food security and ecological sustainability. This research proposes a framework of payment for ecosystem services (PES) to reconcile the large land demand and the need for cropland protection during economic development by identifying whom to compensate, what to pay, how much to pay, the mechanisms for payment, and verification of service delivery. Using the Yangtze River Delta as an example, the features of the PES based on supply-demand analysis, compensation quality and value standards, and payment regulation are demonstrated. The results show the effectiveness of this PES framework for handling the externality of environmental protection compared to traditional regulatory approaches. The framework will also aid in the protection of cropland by coordinating the benefits of stakeholders. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Gardener Well-Being along Social and Biophysical Landscape Gradients
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 96; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010096
Received: 13 December 2017 / Revised: 27 December 2017 / Accepted: 30 December 2017 / Published: 2 January 2018
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Abstract
Increasing human populations are challenging cities to grow sustainably while maintaining green spaces that deliver ecosystem services and well-being benefits. Community gardens are green spaces that provide food, community, and health benefits, but gardens often are non-permanent due to development and green space
[...] Read more.
Increasing human populations are challenging cities to grow sustainably while maintaining green spaces that deliver ecosystem services and well-being benefits. Community gardens are green spaces that provide food, community, and health benefits, but gardens often are non-permanent due to development and green space loss. Thus, investigating their significance and benefit across urban regions is critical for research and policy alike. This study investigated the role of community gardens in providing human well-being benefits across three counties in the California Central Coast—a region undergoing massive urban transformation in the last century. We measured how multiple aspects of self-reported gardener well-being varied in relation to the social opportunities of surrounding neighborhoods and the biophysical features of the landscapes in which the gardens were embedded. The results document improvements in gardener well-being through gardening across social and biophysical gradients. Gardeners are motivated by diverse reasons, varying from gardening in order to connect to nature, to gardening for improved food access, or to enhance time spent with family. Community gardens are therefore important for supporting many well-being benefits. Policies to maintain and protect gardens should prioritize neighborhoods with needs for connecting to nature and enhancing social interaction within the community. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Valuing Urban Landscape Using Subjective Well-Being Data: Empirical Evidence from Dalian, China
Sustainability 2018, 10(1), 36; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10010036
Received: 20 November 2017 / Revised: 15 December 2017 / Accepted: 20 December 2017 / Published: 24 December 2017
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Abstract
It has been well recognized that the urban landscape ecosystem is able to make a great contribution to the quality of life for people who live in the city and beyond, thus it can potentially accrue a significant economic value to the human
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It has been well recognized that the urban landscape ecosystem is able to make a great contribution to the quality of life for people who live in the city and beyond, thus it can potentially accrue a significant economic value to the human well-being. However, due to its public good nature, it is difficult to monetizing its values in a systematic manner. In this paper, we attempt to assess the economic value of the urban landscape through people’s life satisfaction approach utilizing a large sample of dataset complied from the general public survey in Dalian City which is one of the well-known tourism cities in China. The results indicate that most of the urban landscape attributes impose significant effects on people’s life satisfaction, thus accruing a considerable amount of value to the local residents. Taking a 10-point ranking scale for the urban landscape quality as an example, the household willingness to pay on average reaches ¥24,579 per annum for one point of ranking level increase. Relative to the low level of household income, those high-income households are much keener to the changes of the landscape quality. If the urban landscape quality is disaggregated into five levels, household’s marginal willingness-to-pay diminishes as the urban landscape’s rank level is improved. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Ecosystem Services Value Assessment and Uneven Development of the Qingjiang River Basin in China
Sustainability 2017, 9(12), 2356; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9122356
Received: 11 August 2017 / Revised: 7 December 2017 / Accepted: 8 December 2017 / Published: 18 December 2017
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Abstract
As an important ecological barrier in Southwest China, the Qingjiang river basin plays a vital role in shaping the mountainous terrain. This paper analyzes the Ecosystem Services Value (ESV) using a series of methods based on the data of changes in land use
[...] Read more.
As an important ecological barrier in Southwest China, the Qingjiang river basin plays a vital role in shaping the mountainous terrain. This paper analyzes the Ecosystem Services Value (ESV) using a series of methods based on the data of changes in land use from 2000 to 2015 and the statistical yearbook. The changes in land use between 2000 and 2015 were dominated by forest land, which accounted for 60.63% of the total area, followed by arable landwhich accounted for about 22.26%, while grassland and other land use contribution rates were the lowest, accounting for only about 17.11%. Environmental changes and economic development were uneven. The regional comprehensive strength of En’shi City, Changyang County, and Yidu City were among the highest, while Badong County, Hefeng County, and Wufeng County were among the lowest in the area under study. In addition, the ESV in 2035 was estimated to be 1.56 billion dollars, a decrease of 27.64% when compared with the year 2000. The ESV of Yidu City, Lichuan City, Jianshi County, and Hefeng County grew faster, at the rates of 94.76%, 65.12%, 96.96%, and 92.38%, respectively. However, the ESV of En’shi City, Badong County, Wufeng County and Xuan’en County showed a downward trend, at the rates of −32.53%, −487.80%, −368.07%, and −181.52%, respectively. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Assessing Urban Sustainability Using a Multi-Scale, Theme-Based Indicator Framework: A Case Study of the Yangtze River Delta Region, China
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 2072; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9112072
Received: 11 October 2017 / Revised: 2 November 2017 / Accepted: 6 November 2017 / Published: 10 November 2017
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Abstract
Urban sustainability is a great concern worldwide. However, how to evaluate urban sustainability is still a big challenge because sustainable development is multifaceted and scale dependent, which demands various assessment methods and indicators that often do not reach a consensus. In this study,
[...] Read more.
Urban sustainability is a great concern worldwide. However, how to evaluate urban sustainability is still a big challenge because sustainable development is multifaceted and scale dependent, which demands various assessment methods and indicators that often do not reach a consensus. In this study, we assessed urban sustainability of the Yangtze River Delta (YRD), China during 2000–2014 at two spatial scales (corresponding to the administrative levels of province and prefecture). A theme-based indicator framework, cluster analysis and Mann–Kendall test were used for urban sustainability assessment. Our results showed that the overall (OS), social (SS), and economic sustainability (EcS) scores for two provinces and sixteen prefectural cities increased from 2000 to 2014 in general, but the environmental sustainability (EnS) scores decreased over time. According to the performance of SS, EnS and EcS at the prefectural level, three distinct city clusters were identified: Cluster 1 with high SS and EcS but low EnS; Cluster 2 with low SS and EcS but high EnS; and Cluster 3 with moderate SS, EnS and EcS. The three sustainability dimensions—society, environment and economy—all changed over time and differed among cities at the two administrative levels. Our results implied that, according to the “strong sustainability” perspective, the cities of the YRD became less sustainable or unsustainable because the social and economic progresses were at the expense of the environment. The level of urban sustainability was lower at the provincial level than the prefectural level, implying that the problems of unsustainability are even greater at the provincial level than the prefectural level in the YRD region. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Spatial Pattern of Carbon Sequestration and Urban Sustainability: Analysis of Land-Use and Carbon Emission in Guang’an, China
Sustainability 2017, 9(11), 1951; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9111951
Received: 31 July 2017 / Revised: 6 October 2017 / Accepted: 23 October 2017 / Published: 26 October 2017
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Abstract
The state of the urban carbon cycle is an important indicator for managing fossil energy consumption and land resources and it is also a basis for the planning of urban eco-services and urban sustainable development. This paper aims to analyze the spatial distribution
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The state of the urban carbon cycle is an important indicator for managing fossil energy consumption and land resources and it is also a basis for the planning of urban eco-services and urban sustainable development. This paper aims to analyze the spatial distribution of the carbon cycle of the mono-centric cities, based on the von Thünen concentric ring theory, using the InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs) model and an atmospheric diffusion model to assess the carbon sequestration capacity of land cover/use, to estimate carbon emissions, discuss influencing factors that determine changing trends in carbon sequestration capacity and to predict the changing law of the carbon sequestration eco-service spatial pattern based on scenario simulations. The results of this study show: (1) In Guang’an, the spatial distribution of the carbon cycle follows a concentric ring pattern. From the concentric ring pattern center, the first annular zone represents the carbon emissions, which lie at the concentric ring center; the second annular zone represents the carbon sequestration service; and the third annular zone represents stable carbon stock; (2) The structure of the concentric ring has not changed, but the spatial distribution of carbon sequestration and carbon density has changed due to fossil energy consumption and land cover/use change. From 2014 to 2016, the carbon emission zone shrunk, while the carbon sequestration service zone expanded and the carbon density increased—the increase of forest land is the main factor in the increase of carbon density; (3) The current carbon sequestration eco-service in Guang’an is not the best development condition. The planning of urban eco-service spatial patterns and land cover/use should consider the protection of cultivated and ecological areas at the same time. The results of this study can help the government implement spatial planning and regional policy interventions for land cover/use and eco-service. Full article
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Open AccessArticle Projecting the CO2 and Climatic Change Effects on the Net Primary Productivity of the Urban Ecosystems in Phoenix, AZ in the 21st Century under Multiple RCP (Representative Concentration Pathway) Scenarios
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1366; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9081366
Received: 5 May 2017 / Revised: 28 July 2017 / Accepted: 29 July 2017 / Published: 3 August 2017
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Abstract
Urban vegetation provides ecological services that promote both the ecosystem integrity and human well-being of urban areas, and thus is critical to urban sustainability. As a key indicator of ecological health, net primary productivity (NPP) provides valuable information about the performance of urban
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Urban vegetation provides ecological services that promote both the ecosystem integrity and human well-being of urban areas, and thus is critical to urban sustainability. As a key indicator of ecological health, net primary productivity (NPP) provides valuable information about the performance of urban ecosystem in response to the changes in urban climate and atmosphere in the 21st century. In this study, a process-based urban ecosystem model, HPM-UEM (Hierarchical Patch Mosaic-Urban Ecosystem Model), was used to investigate spatiotemporal dynamics of urban ecosystem NPP in the Phoenix city, AZ under three representative concentration pathway (RCP2.6, RCP4.5 and RCP8.5) during the 21st century. The results indicated that, by the end of the 21st century, the urban ecosystem’s NPP would increase by 14% (in RCP2.6), 51% (in RCP4.5) and 99% (in RCP8.5) relative to that in the late 2000s, respectively. Factorial analysis indicated that CO2 fertilization effect would be the major driver of NPP change, accounting for 56–61% of the NPP increase under the scenarios. Under the RCP2.6 scenario, the strongest NPP increase would be found in the agricultural lands located in the west and southeast of the city. Under the RCP4.5 and RCP8.5 scenarios, the strongest NPP increase would be found in the mesic residential areas that mainly located to the eastern, southern, and southwestern of the Phoenix Mountains Preserve. Although higher ecosystem NPP in the future implies improved ecosystem services that may help to alleviate the heat stress (by providing more shading) and air pollution in the city, this will be at the cost of higher irrigation water usage, probably leading to water shortage in the natural ecosystems in this arid region. Furthermore, this study indicated the rich (such as in mesic residential area) would enjoy more benefits from the improved urban ecosystem services than the poor (such as in xeric residential area). Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview A Review of the Economic, Social, and Environmental Impacts of China’s South–North Water Transfer Project: A Sustainability Perspective
Sustainability 2017, 9(8), 1489; https://doi.org/10.3390/su9081489
Received: 29 June 2017 / Revised: 9 August 2017 / Accepted: 14 August 2017 / Published: 22 August 2017
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Abstract
China’s South–North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP) has the potential to transfer as much as 44.8 km3 year−1 of water from the Yangtze River basin to the Yellow River basin. However, the SNWTP has not been assessed from a sustainability perspective. Thus,
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China’s South–North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP) has the potential to transfer as much as 44.8 km3 year−1 of water from the Yangtze River basin to the Yellow River basin. However, the SNWTP has not been assessed from a sustainability perspective. Thus, in this study we evaluated the SNWTP’s economic, social, and environmental impacts by reviewing the English literature published in journals that are part of the Web of Science database. We then synthesized this literature using a Triple Bottom Line framework of sustainability assessment. Our study has led to three main findings: (1) whether the SNWTP is economically beneficial depends largely on model assumptions, meaning that economic gains at the regional and national level are uncertain; (2) the SNWTP requires the resettlement of hundreds of thousands of people and challenges existing water management institutions, suggesting possible social concerns beyond the short term; and (3) evidently large environmental costs in water-providing areas and uncertain environmental benefits in water-receiving areas together point to an uncertain environmental future for the geographic regions involved. Thus, the overall sustainability of SNWTP is seriously questionable. Although much work has been done studying individual aspects of SNWTP’s sustainability, few studies have utilized the multi-scale, transdisciplinary approaches that such a project demands. To minimize environmental risks, ensure social equity, and sustain economic benefits, we suggest that the project be continuously monitored in all three dimensions, and that integrated sustainability assessments and policy improvements be carried out periodically. Full article
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