Conference Agenda

206R: Relevance of long-term land-use change for sustainable land management
Thursday, 25/Apr/2019:
10:45am - 12:15pm

Session Chair: Simone Gingrich
Session Chair: Matthias Bürgi
Location: UniS-A -126
UniS building, room A-126, basement, 80 seats
Session Topics:
What do people want from land?

Session Abstract

Managed land, such as agricultural land or used forests, is not only the result of current land use practices in a particular environment. Historical societal interventions, dating back decades or even centuries, also impact today’s cultural landscapes. Past land management and its effect on current landscapes are shaped by past societal needs, rules and regulations and available technologies, and their assessment today depends on current values and appreciated land functions. We argue that sustainable land management needs to take into account legacy-effects of long-term land-use change in order to adequately cope with ongoing inert processes, and to avoid delayed negative impacts of today’s land use. Past land uses may affect all kinds of land systems, and impact a variety of ecosystem features, such as spatial patterns, species distribution, age structure, or soil nutrient pools. Their effects may be beneficial to sustainable land management (e.g., when forest carbon sequestration today is made possible, among others, by historical deforestation), or detrimental (e.g., when past land management practices lead to extinction of species today). This session assembles conceptual and empirical contributions addressing the relevance of past land use and land-use change for current sustainable land management. The relevance may be established either by directly tracing the impact of past land uses on current features of the same land (i.e. land-use legacies of past events or processes), or by identifying generalizable features in historical processes (e.g. land-use transitions) which may apply to current processes elsewhere.

Full talk
ID: 429 / 206R: 1
206R Relevance of long-term land-use change for sustainable land management
Keywords: spy satellite data, long term land use, forest, steppe, Corona

Unlocking the potential of Cold War Spy Satellite data for land change assessments

Catalina Munteanu1,2, Mihai Daniel Nita2, Volker Radeloff3, Garik Gutman4, Tobias Kuemmerle1

1Humboldt-University Berlin, Germany; 2Transilvania University of Brasov, Romania; 3University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA; 4National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA

Historic land uses may have major economic, political and human implications, and they can strongly affect the environment and land use into the future. They produce land use legacies that can persist for decades or centuries. Yet, these can be hard to quantify, because broad scale data records usually only go back a few decades. We used Cold War Corona spy satellite photography in conjunction with contemporary land use data for three case studies in Romania, Vietnam and Kazakhstan, to show the potential of this data for long term land change assessments. In Romania, we found that rates of forest harvest in the 1960s were three times higher than today, and this may affect contemporary forest disturbance. In Vietnam, following bombing in the late 60s, forest took 30 years to recover, and contemporary micro-topography and was permanently altered. In Kazakhstan, we found that Cold War agricultural development caused contemporary decrease in marmot populations, affecting the ecosystem balance. Overall we suggest that contemporary land management needs to account for historic data and highlight that Corona imagery may provide a reliable historic source of land use information worldwide. Our approach facilitates the extension of the data record of space borne observation of the Earth by one to two decades earlier than what is possible with traditional satellite datasets.

Full talk
ID: 632 / 206R: 2
206R Relevance of long-term land-use change for sustainable land management
Keywords: Soil organic matter mineralization, tropical agriculture, greenhouse gas emissions, shade cultivation

Long-term impacts of land use changes on the carbon footprint and nitrogen balance of coffee production in Costa Rica, 1838-2014

Eduardo Aguilera1, Juan Infante-Amate2, Wilson Picado3

1ETSI Agronomos, Technical University of Madrid, Spain; 2Universidad Pablo de Olavide, Spain; 3Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica

The cultivation of agricultural commodities in tropical countries has made exotic products available to a large share of the population in the world, but it is also related to environmental impacts, including land use change, nutrient losses and greenhouse gas emissions. In this work, we take coffee production in Costa Rica as a case study of the evolution of the C footprint of a tropical woody crop product. We have considered the whole coffee cultivation area in the country since it began in 1838, until 2014. All components of NPP and external inputs have been estimated in terms of N and C. For the first time, the long-term (almost two centuries) evolution of the C stock of a tropical crop system has been fully reconstructed, including the coffee bush layer, the shade layer, their belowground components and the soil organic carbon (SOC) stock. The C footprint has been estimated through LCA, incorporating the impacts of land use changes. The preliminary results unveil a complex pattern in the N balance and C footprints, with land use changes playing a major role on the observed trends. During the early expansion of coffee, mainly sun-grown, the massive release of C and N from the mineralization of organic matter led to very high N losses and C footprint, which decreased with the expansion of shade-grown coffee at the turn of the century. The impacts of indirect land use changes, however, decreased only in the late 20th century. The rapid modernization by mid-20th century boosted again N losses, which, together with fossil fuel use, increased the C footprint, although the latter was largely offset by yield increases. A reforestation process has taken place in the last decades, potentially offsetting a large share of coffee emissions.

Full talk
ID: 337 / 206R: 3
206R Relevance of long-term land-use change for sustainable land management
Keywords: long-term land-use change, climate-change mitigation, long-term socio-ecological research

Which processes enabled the Austrian forest transition? Re-evaluating the climate change mitigation effect of long-term reforestation

Simone Gingrich, Christian Lauk

University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Austria

Land systems are coupled socio-ecological systems, shaped equally by ecosystem properties and societal interventions. Interdisciplinary research on land systems however rarely addresses the fact that the transformation of ecosystems by societies not only related to policies and decision-making, but also to biophysical practices, including the use of energy or energy-dependent modern inputs. This has important implications for evaluating the climate-change mitigation contribution of land systems.

In this presentation, we re-evaluate the climate-change mitigation effect of the Austrian forest transition, i.e. the net shift from deforestation to reforestation, which occurred in the mid-19th century. We argue that this transition was possible only because forests were relieved from pressure through other emission-intensive processes, including woodfuel substitution, agricultural intensification, and increasing trade. We study the relevance of these processes for enabling reforestation and quantify their GHG implications. We then compare these emissions to the carbon sink of Austrian ecosystems to assess the net climate-change mitigation effect of long-term reforestation in Austria. While the processes which occurred in Austria during the 19th century differ greatly from ongoing forest transition processes e.g. in tropical countries, we aim to draw general lessons on the interrelation of forest transitions and their “hidden emissions” outside the forest sector.

Full talk
ID: 250 / 206R: 4
206R Relevance of long-term land-use change for sustainable land management
Keywords: Wildland-Urban Interface, WUI, land use change, Carpathians

Drivers of the mid-19th and 21st century Wildland-Urban Interface in the Polish Carpathians

Dominik Kaim, Marcin Szwagrzyk, Krzysztof Ostafin

Jagiellonian University, Poland

The Wildland-Urban Interface (WUI) is the area, where houses and wildland vegetation meet or intermingle, which causes many environmental problems incl. wildfires, disease transfer, human-animal conflict or spread of invasive species. As many mountain areas in Europe face currently forest cover increase, and at the same time development of the settlements, WUI areas tend to increase. However, little is known, how did WUI evolve in long-term perspective. In this work, we analyse WUI extent in the Polish Carpathians (20 000 km2) in mid-19th and at the beginning of 21st century based on the information from historical maps, statistical data and current spatial databases. Our results show that WUI area increased from 30% in mid-19th century to 49% currently. The analysis showed also that WUI is persistent over time, as more than 90% of the WUI areas from mid-19th century is still WUI currently. The analysis of the environmental and socioeconomic variables showed that similar drivers are responsible for WUI existence over time. While both in mid-19th and 21st century slope, elevation and distance to cities were helpful in explaining WUI existence, the differences are also noticeable. Historically forest ownership was an important driver of WUI, while currently settlement density seems to be important. Our results show that WUI is a long-term and persistent phenomenon. While currently, we can observe high WUI dynamics, it seems that it will be an important land use legacy for the future land management. On the other hand, the areas where WUI vanished over time, are currently particulary interesting opportunities for environmental protection, as the human impact on wildland is lower there, than it used to be.

Full talk
ID: 671 / 206R: 5
206R Relevance of long-term land-use change for sustainable land management
Keywords: historical data, CLUE, land-use change modelling, land-use legacies, spatial analysis

400 years of land use path-dependence in temperate Russia

Victor Matasov, Oleg Zheleznyy, Dmitry Khitrov

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Russian Federation

Our study is based on historical land use reconstruction with a help of CLUE model for analysing three key areas in the northern part of Ryazan region, namely the Meshchera Lowlands. Original land use data had been obtained from Scribe Books (XVII), General Land Survey maps (XVIII c.), Atlas Mende maps (XIX c.), Corona satellite imagery (XX c.) and modern satellite images (XXI c.). Two kinds of factors influencing land use distribution were analysed: local biophysical (various relief, hydrology, soil parameters) and socio-economic (population density, distance to roads, rivers, etc). Results of logistic regression analysis were used for running the model. In most of existing models population density is the main driver of land use transformation, so one of our goals was to manipulate model parameters and examine the role population density plays in land use dynamics and spatial distribution across the key areas of research. Our results suggest that the relationship is very complex and often hugely dependent on other factors. Comparison of generated and existing land use patterns shows that population density does not determine the extent and spatial distribution of agricultural transformation on this scale. Our results showed that harvested cropland area increased only marginally before the Russian revolution in 1917 despite modest population growth. During the Soviet time, the share of grassland increased at the expense of croplands while the post-socialist period after 1991 was characterized by widespread land abandonment. The development of agriculture was limited by natural factors through all the time.

The study was supported by RFBR, project № 16-17-10045.

Flash talk
ID: 510 / 206R: 6
106R Land systems for conservation science
Keywords: Commodities, Croplands, Mexico, NAFTA, Pasturelands

Beyond deforestation: Land cover transitions in Mexico

Martha Bonilla-Moheno1, T. Mitchell Aide2

1Red de Ambiente y Sustentabilidad. Instituto de Ecologia, A.C.,Mexico; 2Department of Biology. University of Puerto Rico. San Juan, Puerto Rico

Conversion of land cover is one on the main causes of global environmental change, and identifying the regions where sustained trends of land change are occurring provides useful information for land and resources management. We analyzed land use changes over 14 years (2001-2014) at the ecoregion scale for Mexico using MODIS images (250m). Ecoregions are useful to capture the environmental context. We identified the significant trends of land cover change from the three main classes (cropland, pastureland, and woody vegetation). Results show spatial segregation of areas where important trends are occurring. In general, woody and cropland cover increased while pastures decreased; however, the extent and the spatial aggregation of major changes varied greatly across ecoregions. The majority of cropland expansion was concentrated in Sonora and Chihuahuan deserts in northern Mexico, while the greatest reduction in the Tamaulipan mezquital. The decline in pastures mainly occurred in dry forest ecoregion along the Pacific coast in the Balsas dry forests ecoregions and along the Trans Mexican volcanic belt, while pasture expansion occurred in most ecoregions from the moist forest. In fact, dramatic deforestation rates prevail in tropical moist forests, prominently the Veracruz and Peten-Veracruz, due to pasture expansion. Hotspots of increase in crops did not correspond with hotspots of decline in pastures. National and international markets, and coupled with local environmental conditions, land abandonment, violence, climate change, and national policies have influenced these complex dynamics. We discuss specific drivers for some of the presented land use trends.