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The effects of land use change on ecosystem services in a mountainous region

Année de parution
73 pages

Isabel Sauter, 2018: The effects of land use change on ecosystem services in a mountainous region. Master thesis. 73 p.


Sauter, I. 2018: The effects of land use change on ecosystem services in a mountainous region. Master Thesis ETHZ, D-USYS. Supervisors: PD Dr. J. Bolliger, Prof. Felix Kienast, Dr. Robert Pazur.


This Master thesis presents an example of a regional-scale assessment of three ecosystem services (flood protection, nearby recreation and biodiversity) which could facilitate incorporation of ecosystem services into policy making. The assessment included mapping of service supply and demand in the region of Vorarlberg, Austria based on a land use map. Respective indicators as proxies for each service were determined. For the mapping of biodiversity the InVEST habitat quality model was applied. The assessment aimed at identifying potential discrepancies between supply and demand of the individual services but also at analysing potential synergies or conflicts between the different services. Additionally, two future land use scenarios were used to analyse potential consequences of land change on ecosystem service supply and demand and service interactions. Since the study area is characterised as a mountainous region, the ecosystem services were also analysed in terms of their altitudinal distribution.

The assessment identified high supply of flood protection, nearby recreation and biodiversity in mid-elevation areas with a peak around 1200 m a.s.l. and low supply at low (< 600 m a.s.l.) and high (> 2000 m a.s.l.) elevations. Thereby, nearby recreation showed higher spatial variability of supply than flood protection and biodiversity. Demand for flood protection and nearby recreation plus habitat degradation was high in low elevation areas with a peak around 500 to 600 m a.s.l. and gradually decreasing with increasing elevation. Where highest demand for a service concurred with low supply (in particular in the densely-populated Rhine valley) supply might not be able to meet demand. However, these discrepancies would have to be quantified in a more local-scale assessment. 6.5% of the total area of Vorarlberg was found to provide high supply of all the three services assessed, whereas 1.3% of the total area was identified as potential conflict area between biodiversity and nearby recreation. Comparison with the distribution of different land use types across Vorarlberg revealed a clear correlation of service supply and synergistic areas with forest areas and correlation of service demand, habitat degradation and conflict areas with human-dominated land use types including built-up and agricultural areas. The future assessment projected increases in both supply and demand of flood protection and nearby recreation but with supply increasing more than demand. Hence, pressure on these services was predicted to decrease over the total area of Vorarlberg. In contrast, habitat degradation was projected to increase more than biodiversity supply, meaning that pressure on species and habitats would increase under the two scenarios of land change.

In conclusion, the assessment indicated that certain land use types, in particular forests and built-up areas highly impact supply and demand of ecosystem services. The here presented approach for mapping of ecosystem services could facilitate to take potential consequences of land change on ecosystem services into account in policy making and support decision-making concerning issues of spatial planning or nature conservation.