Highly valued agricultural landscapes and their ecosystem services in the suburban areas, the example of Wrocław, Poland.

Authors and Affiliations: 

Iga Solecka, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences
Marta Sylla, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences

Corresponding author: 
Iga Solecka

The combination of the concepts of the ecosystem service and landscape assessment is the integrative approach to assessment of sustainable management of suburban development (Guerra & Pinto-Correia, 2016). The aim of our contribution is to improve the agricultural landscape value assessment in suburban areas by suggesting an ecosystem services assessment framework for agricultural suburban areas. We then present the relationships between highly valued agricultural landscapes and the highest provision of the selected ecosystem services. For the case study area, we selected 10 suburban municipalities of Wrocław (1423,31 km2) located in the central-east of Lower Silesia Region. The case study municipalities have predominantly agricultural character (75,5% of total area). Municipalities undergo constant land use change resulting from the urban sprawl’s pressure of increasing housing developments (Dupras et al., 2016).
Agricultural landscape types were classified according to the Typology of Poland’s current landscapes (Chmielewski et al., 2015) and based on CORINE land cover 2012 database. With use of cadastral data and ortophoto map agricultural landscape subtypes were identified according to the criteria of shape and size of the fields. Landscape value assessment was based on natural, cultural and aesthetic values using the following criteria: the state of preservation, legal environmental protection, cultural heritage, variety and clarity. Each value was calculated with landscape metrics using ArcGIS tools and software.
Ecosystem service supply assessment includes the three main types of ecosystem services by CICES 4.3. The provisioning ES of agricultural land in our case study area is mainly crop production. The regulating ES includes water retention supply of agricultural fields. This ecosystem services is important as urban sprawl increases the impervious surfaces (Elmqvist et al, 2015). The cultural ecosystem service in our study concerns the recreational potential supply (Casado-Arzuaga, 2014). The aesthetic service already contributed to the landscape value assessment, therefore, we wanted to exclude double accounting for that services.
Four agricultural landscape subtypes were identified: longitudinal structures of arable fields, meadows and pastures, mosaic spread of small-sized agricultural lands, mosaic spread of average-sized agricultural lands and large-scale fields and / or meadows and pastures. Agricultural landscape mostly consists of large-scale fields (44%) and average-sized agricultural lands (35%). High landscape value was assessed in the subtype of large-scale fields. We find significant correlations between the results of the landscape value assessment and ecosystem service assessment. We conclude that the agricultural ES assessment improves the landscape assessment by introducing wider perspective on the environmental elements and the potential supply of the selected benefits of agricultural landscapes to people.


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Guerra, C. A., & Pinto-Correia, T. (2016). Linking farm management and ecosystem service provision: challenges and opportunities for soil erosion prevention in Mediterranean silvo-pastoral systems. Land Use Policy, 51, 54-65.

Elmqvist, T., Setälä, H., Handel, S., van der Ploeg, S., Aronson, J., Blignaut, J., Gomez-Baggethun, E., Nowak, D.J., Kronenberg, J., de Groot, R. (2015). Benefits of restoring ecosystem services in urban areas, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, 14, 101–108.

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