Using land use/land cover trajectories to uncover ecosystem service patterns across the Alps
Egarter Vigl L
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SubjectEcosystem services bundles spatiotemporal dynamics; ES upscaling; Cluster analysis; Mountain areas
Managing multiple ecosystem services (ES) in agricultural landscapes is a challenging task, especially in regions with complex topographical and agro-ecological conditions. These challenges require ES assessment approaches that go beyond the case study level and provide multi-temporal information at a transnational level. We used a spatiotemporal approach to examine the impact of specific land use/land cover (LULC) trajectories on eight ES for the past 150 years. We show how a spatially explicit ES upscaling procedure, from case study to an Alpine-wide level, based on topographical, agro-ecological and socioeconomic parameters, can improve our understanding of ES dynamics and bundles. Our results indicated that the provision of multiple ES was not stable during the 150 years surveyed, mainly depending on the prevailing land management type and the biophysical conditions. ES bundle mapping enabled us to identify landscapes with consistent socioecological characteristics that are most likely to either enhance or diminish the provision of specific types of services. By introducing a spatiotemporal perspective into ES assessment, we provide clear evidence of the dynamic nature of ES provision and contribute to identifying processes and drivers behind these interactions. Our results emphasize that mountain ES supply is particularly sensitive to long-term LULC change, to biophysical characteristics and to regional socioeconomic conditions. They indicate the benefit of integrating of ES bundles into environmental policies at national and transnational level.
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