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Special Issue "Sustainability, Biodiversity, and Conservation"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 August 2019).

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Dr. Richard A. Niesenbaum

Biology Department, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: community sustainability; sustainability education; sustainability of artisanal gold mining; urban food production; tropical forestry, social entrepreneurship; conservation, biodiveristy and rare plants; ethnobotany

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Until recently, the relationship between sustainability and the conservation of biodiversity has not been well understood. In some cases, sustainability objectives have been viewed as incompatible with the priority of conserving biodiversity. There is now a growing body of evidence that the diversity of life is critical for ecosystem function and services on which humans depend, and is directly linked to the economic, social, and environmental spheres of sustainability. However, this diversity is increasingly threatened by human activities, such as urbanization, global deforestation, agricultural expansion, and climate change. As such, the UN now prioritizes the conservation of biodiversity in its SDGs, and in the UN Rio+20 outcome document The Future We Want. This is because of the recognition that biodiversity loss and associated reduced capacity in the provision of ecosystem services directly impact the human condition. In this Special Issue, we will explore specific ways in which biodiversity contributes to sustainability. We will also consider how best to approach biodiversity conservation and sustainability objectives synergistically, and to pragmatically frame these priorities as mutually compatible to diverse audiences. We seek contributions that accomplish this by focusing on the connections between biodiversity and ecosystem function and services; poverty reduction; sustainable development; agriculture and resource management, urbanization, public health, climate change and other sustainability related issues.

Dr. Richard A. Niesenbaum
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 semimonthly 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 1700 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

  • agriculture
  • climate change
  • conservation biology
  • ecosystem function
  • ecosystem services
  • forestry
  • poverty reduction
  • resource management
  • sustainability
  • sustainable development

Published Papers (8 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Plant Biodiversity Knowledge Varies by Gender in Sustainable Amazonian Agricultural Systems Called Chacras
Sustainability 2019, 11(15), 4211; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11154211
Received: 24 May 2019 / Revised: 29 July 2019 / Accepted: 1 August 2019 / Published: 4 August 2019
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Abstract
Chacras, which are Amazonian agricultural systems, are examples of traditional agricultural management that are sustainable. They are also characteristic of the identities of different ethnographic groups in tropical America. However, information regarding the botanical characterization of chacras is scant. In tropical rural communities, [...] Read more.
Chacras, which are Amazonian agricultural systems, are examples of traditional agricultural management that are sustainable. They are also characteristic of the identities of different ethnographic groups in tropical America. However, information regarding the botanical characterization of chacras is scant. In tropical rural communities, there is a gender bias hypothesis that makes women potential reservoirs of traditional chacras plant knowledge. We present an experimental study in order to demonstrate if this knowledge difference really exists and to plan accordingly. We performed workshops in an isolated Kichwa community from Amazonian Ecuador. We calculated the cultural signififcance index (CSI) for 97 local flora plants. Our results revealed statistically significant differences. They were coherent with the Kichwa worldview and the structure of their society. We concluded that gender perspective must be taken into account in biodiversity conservation programs, such as, for example, those to implement the resilient agricultural practices of tropical contexts promoted by The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SGD2). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability, Biodiversity, and Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle
Identifying Shared Strategies and Solutions to the Human–Giant Tortoise Interactions in Santa Cruz, Galapagos: A Nominal Group Technique Application
Sustainability 2019, 11(10), 2937; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11102937
Received: 29 March 2019 / Revised: 16 May 2019 / Accepted: 20 May 2019 / Published: 23 May 2019
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Abstract
Conservation conflicts in protected areas are varied and context-specific, but the resulting effects are often similar, leading to important losses for both humans and wildlife. Several methods and approaches have been used to mitigate conservation conflicts, with an increasing emphasis on understanding the [...] Read more.
Conservation conflicts in protected areas are varied and context-specific, but the resulting effects are often similar, leading to important losses for both humans and wildlife. Several methods and approaches have been used to mitigate conservation conflicts, with an increasing emphasis on understanding the human–human dimension of the conflict. In this article, we present a revision of several conservation conflict cases in the management of protected areas, transdisciplinary and participatory approaches to address conservation conflicts, and finalize by illustrating the application of the nominal group technique (NGT) with the case of the human–giant tortoise interactions in Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos. In this article, we demonstrate the use of novel and systematic participatory and deliberative methodology that is able to engage stakeholders in a constructive dialogue to jointly identify and explore options for shared strategies and solutions to conservation conflicts. The results are comparable with other conservation conflicts cases around the world and illustrate the importance of generating legitimatized information that will further help policy and decision-making actions to address conservation conflicts in the management of protected areas. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability, Biodiversity, and Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle
Effectiveness of Arguments Used in the Creation of Protected Areas of Sustainable Use in Brazil: A Case Study from the Atlantic Forest and Cerrado
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1700; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061700
Received: 11 February 2019 / Revised: 3 March 2019 / Accepted: 13 March 2019 / Published: 21 March 2019
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Abstract
Studies on the effectiveness of the discourse motivating the creation of protected areas (PAs) and their empirical reality are scarce. The lack of knowledge in this area affects programs and policies on the maintenance and creation of protected areas. Thus, we investigated this [...] Read more.
Studies on the effectiveness of the discourse motivating the creation of protected areas (PAs) and their empirical reality are scarce. The lack of knowledge in this area affects programs and policies on the maintenance and creation of protected areas. Thus, we investigated this matter using the case study of the Nascente Geraizeiras Sustainable Development Reserve (NGSDR) in Minas Gerais State, Brazil. The reserve comprises a transition area between Cerrado and the Atlantic Forest, two critical biomes in the world of biodiversity and the only two hotspots in Brazil. Changes in land use were identified over a period of 30 years, from 1987 to 2017, based on a compilation of the arguments associated with the creation of the PA, geographic information system (GIS) techniques, remote sensing (RS) data, and landscape ecology indices. Seven types of land use were identified using Random Forest classifier R software: native forest, silviculture, pasture, bare soil, rocky outcrop, watercourses, and agriculture. The overall mean accuracy of the classification was 90% for all five periods. The results demonstrated that the creation of protected areas is supported by contexts of land use still based on traditional. The case study showed the discourse served as a fundamental strategy in the beginning of the mobilization that culminated in the creation of the NGSDR, in the containment of forestry, in an increase in native forest areas, and in reduced fragmentation, leading to an improvement in the conservation status of the landscape. The present study encourages future researchers to apply the evaluated approach and demonstrates its potential in assessing the formulation of programs and policies on protected areas worldwide, providing valid indicators for the improvement of ecosystem services. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability, Biodiversity, and Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle
Evaluating On-Farm Biodiversity: A Comparison of Assessment Methods
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4812; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124812
Received: 27 November 2018 / Revised: 10 December 2018 / Accepted: 13 December 2018 / Published: 17 December 2018
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Abstract
Strategies to stop the loss of biodiversity in agriculture areas will be more successful if farmers have the means to understand changes in biodiversity on their farms and to assess the effectiveness of biodiversity promoting measures. There are several methods to assess on-farm [...] Read more.
Strategies to stop the loss of biodiversity in agriculture areas will be more successful if farmers have the means to understand changes in biodiversity on their farms and to assess the effectiveness of biodiversity promoting measures. There are several methods to assess on-farm biodiversity but it may be difficult to select the most appropriate method for a farmer’s individual circumstances. This study aims to evaluate the usability and usefulness of four biodiversity assessment methods that are available to farmers in Switzerland. All four methods were applied to five case study farms, which were ranked according to the results. None of the methods were able to provide an exact statement on the current biodiversity status of the farms, but each method could provide an indication, or approximation, of one or more aspects of biodiversity. However, the results also showed that it is possible to generate different statements on the state of biodiversity on the same farms by using different biodiversity assessment methods. All methods showed strengths and weaknesses so, when choosing a method, the purpose of the biodiversity assessment should be kept in the foreground and the limitations of the chosen methods should be considered when interpreting the outcomes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability, Biodiversity, and Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle
A Method to Compare the Biodiversity Conservation Effectiveness between Regions based on a Reference Condition
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3694; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103694
Received: 13 September 2018 / Revised: 3 October 2018 / Accepted: 12 October 2018 / Published: 15 October 2018
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Abstract
Assessment of conservation effectiveness in biodiversity ecological function zones (BEFZs) is important for biodiversity in China. However, a scientific and practical method for effectively comparing biodiversity conservation between different BEFZs is lacking. In this study, a reference condition index that can represent the [...] Read more.
Assessment of conservation effectiveness in biodiversity ecological function zones (BEFZs) is important for biodiversity in China. However, a scientific and practical method for effectively comparing biodiversity conservation between different BEFZs is lacking. In this study, a reference condition index that can represent the optimum value of biodiversity in one BEFZ and a conservation effectiveness index that can reflect the effect of conservation measures were developed. Then a method to compare the biodiversity conservation effectiveness between different BEFZs on both temporal and spatial scales was developed. The method was applied to three BEFZs in China—Yili-Tianshan Mountain, San Jiang Plain Wetland and Minshan-Qionglai Mountain—which are located in different geographic environments. The main conclusions are as follows: (1) the reference condition index can reflect differences in the background of conservation capacity among BEFZs examined, allowing comparison of the biodiversity conservation effectiveness between different BEFZs; (2) the conservation effectiveness index is a useful quantitative measure of the biodiversity conservation effectiveness in BEFZs; and (3) application of this method to the three BEFZs indicated that the method can provide a powerful tool for the management of biodiversity conservation in BEFZs at a macroscale in China. Meanwhile, this method can also provide a reference for building strategies for protecting the ecological environments in other countries on a case-by-case basis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability, Biodiversity, and Conservation)
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Open AccessArticle
Effects of Legal Designation and Management of a Multiple-Use Protected Area on Local Sustainability
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3176; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093176
Received: 2 August 2018 / Revised: 24 August 2018 / Accepted: 30 August 2018 / Published: 5 September 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (1111 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
The designation of protected areas (PAs) entails environmental, social, and economic effects to local stakeholders through access restriction to natural resources. We used a mixed methods research framework that combines time series analysis and stakeholder surveys to elicit objective and subjective effects of [...] Read more.
The designation of protected areas (PAs) entails environmental, social, and economic effects to local stakeholders through access restriction to natural resources. We used a mixed methods research framework that combines time series analysis and stakeholder surveys to elicit objective and subjective effects of legal and managerial designation of Sierra Cabrera-Bedar Natura 2000 site on local sustainability in south-eastern Spain. Firstly, 47 environmental, social, and economic variables for which official time series data were available were assessed using a multiple-paired-Before-After-Control-Impact research design, where “Impacts” were: (1) legal designation of Sierra Cabrera-Bedar as a Site of Community Importance (SCI); and (2) management implementation of the site as an Special Area of Conservation (SAC). The two municipalities having most of their territories in Sierra Cabrera-Bedar SCI/SAC were selected as ‘Cases’, whereas two similar municipalities outside the PA were chosen as ‘Controls’. Additionally, 13 local organisations pertaining to 11 socioeconomic guilds from case municipalities were surveyed on their perceived effects of the designation Sierra Cabrera-Bedar as an SAC on 28 social and economic variables. The effects of legal and managerial protection of the site on local sustainability were unclear although greater SAC sustainability is suggested, even though limited time series availability for the SAC period increases uncertainty. Local organisations perceived mostly limited and negative socioeconomic effects from SAC designation. Disagreement between statistical and perceptual results suggests use of time series analyses for accurate assessment of socioeconomic effects of PAs in Spain. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability, Biodiversity, and Conservation)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
More than Yield: Ecosystem Services of Traditional versus Modern Crop Varieties Revisited
Sustainability 2018, 10(8), 2834; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10082834
Received: 22 June 2018 / Revised: 12 July 2018 / Accepted: 7 August 2018 / Published: 9 August 2018
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (2034 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text | Supplementary Files
Abstract
Agricultural intensification with modern plant breeding focuses on few high-yielding crops and varieties. The loss of traditional crop species and variety diversity contributes to the current decline of provisioning, regulating, and cultural ecosystem services, as reported in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Access to [...] Read more.
Agricultural intensification with modern plant breeding focuses on few high-yielding crops and varieties. The loss of traditional crop species and variety diversity contributes to the current decline of provisioning, regulating, and cultural ecosystem services, as reported in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Access to local and adapted varieties is pivotal for resilient agroecosystems, in particular under current global change. We reviewed the scientific literature to understand the role of different crop varieties for ecosystem services, comparing the performance and perception of traditional landraces versus modern varieties and ask the following questions: 1. Do landraces and modern varieties differ in terms of provisioning and regulating ecosystem services? 2. When and why do farmers prefer cultural ecosystem services of landraces over high-yielding varieties? Based on 41 publications, our results document that modern varieties are preferred over landraces because of their typically higher provisioning services such as crop yield. However, landraces often guarantee higher provisioning services under non-optimal farming conditions. Landraces can show high resilience under harsh environmental conditions and are a trusted source achieving stable crop yield (e.g., under droughts stress). Regulating services such as resistance against pests and diseases appear to often become lost during breeding for high-yielding, modern varieties. Furthermore, small-scale farmers typically prefer local landraces due to regional cultural features such as family traditions and cooking characteristics for special dishes. In conclusion, both landraces and modern varieties have merit depending on the farmers’ priorities and the social-ecological context. In any case, maintaining and restoring the huge diversity of landrace varieties is necessary for sustaining current and future needs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability, Biodiversity, and Conservation)
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Other

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Open AccessConcept Paper
Conceptual Framework for Biodiversity Assessments in Global Value Chains
Sustainability 2019, 11(7), 1841; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11071841
Received: 20 February 2019 / Revised: 14 March 2019 / Accepted: 19 March 2019 / Published: 27 March 2019
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (2869 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Land use and land use change are among the main drivers of the ongoing loss of biodiversity at a global-scale. Although there are already Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods to measure this impact, they are still rarely used by companies and municipalities [...] Read more.
Land use and land use change are among the main drivers of the ongoing loss of biodiversity at a global-scale. Although there are already Life Cycle Impact Assessment (LCIA) methods to measure this impact, they are still rarely used by companies and municipalities in the life cycle assessment of products and processes. Therefore, this paper highlights four main requirements for a biodiversity methodological framework within LCIA in order to facilitate biodiversity assessments: first, to consider the global uneven distribution of biodiversity and its risks with respect to vulnerability and irreplaceability; second, to account for the need to regionalize the impacts of land use; third, to consider the specific impacts that different land use types have on biodiversity; and fourth, to analyze the biodiversity impacts of different land use management parameters and their influence on the intensity of land use. To this end, we provided a review of existing methods in respect to conformity and research gaps. The present publication describes the development of a new methodological framework that builds on these requirements in a three-level hierarchical framework, which enables the assessment of biodiversity in LCA at a global-scale. This publication reveals research gaps regarding the inclusion of proactive and reactive conservation concepts as well as methods of land management into LCIA methodology. The main objective of this concept paper is therefore to describe a new methodological framework for the assessment of biodiversity in the LCA that could fill some of the research gaps, including compilation and suggestion of suitable data sets. The conclusion discusses both the benefits and limitations of this framework. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sustainability, Biodiversity, and Conservation)
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