Ecosystem Services in a Protected Mountain Range of Portugal: Satellite-Based Products for State and Trend Analysis
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Mountains are facing strong environmental pressures, which may jeopardize the supply of various ecosystem services. For sustainable land management, ecosystem services and their supporting functions should thus be evaluated and monitored. Satellite products have been receiving growing attention for monitoring ecosystem functioning, mainly due to their increasing temporal and spatial resolutions. Here, we aim to illustrate the high potential of satellite products, combined with ancillary in situ and statistical data, to monitor the current state and trend of ecosystem services in the Peneda-Gerês National Park, a protected mountain range in Portugal located in a transition climatic zone (Atlantic to Mediterranean). We focused on three ecosystem services belonging to three broad categories: provisioning (reared animals), regulating (of water flows), and cultural (conservation of an endemic and iconic species). These services were evaluated using a set of different satellite products, namely grassland cover, soil moisture, and ecosystem functional attributes. In situ and statistical data were also used to compute final indicators of ecosystem services. We found a decline in the provision of reared animals since year 2000, although the area of grasslands had remained stable. The regulation of water flows had been maintained, and a strong relationship with interannual precipitation pattern was noted. In the same period, conservation of the focal iconic species might have been affected by interannual fluctuations of suitable habitat areas, with a possible influence of wildfires and precipitation. We conclude that satellite products can efficiently provide information about the current state and trend in the supply of various categories of ecosystem services, especially when combined with in situ or statistical data in robust modeling frameworks.