Future impacts of changing land-use and climate on ecosystem services of mountain grassland and their resilience
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SubjectLand-use change; Climate change; Ecosystem service resilience; Mountain farming; Permanent grassland
Although the ecosystem services provided by mountain grasslands have been demonstrated to be highly vulnerable to environmental and management changes in the past, it remains unclear how they will be affected in the face of a combination of further land-use/cover changes and accelerating climate change. Moreover, the resilience of ecosystem services has not been sufficiently analysed under future scenarios. This study aimed to assess future impacts on multiple mountain grassland ecosystem services and their resilience. For a study area in the Central Alps (Stubai Valley, Austria), six ecosystem services were quantified using plant trait-based models for current and future conditions (in 2050 and 2100) considering three socio-economic scenarios. Under all scenarios, the greatest changes in ecosystem services were related to the natural reforestation of abandoned grassland, causing a shift from grassland to forest services. Although the high resilience potential of most ecosystem services will be maintained in the future, climate change seems to have negative impacts, especially on the resilience of forage production. Thus, decision makers and farmers will be faced with the higher vulnerability of ecosystem services of mountain grassland. Future policies should consider both socio-economic and environmental dynamics to manage valuable ecosystem services.
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