The diversity of ecosystems and landscapes is an important level of biodiversity. A highly diverse landscape fulfils many vital natural functions such as the maintenance of species diversity. At the same time it helps to maintain functions required by humans to secure their quality of life. Therefore, the diversity of landscape must also be considered when investigating ecosystem services and corresponding indicators. Examples are the suitability of the landscape for human recreation or the availability of regulating and basic services (e.g. pollination) for agricultural production. Thus parameters which capture the diversity of landscape structures are of interest both to environmental monitoring schemes as well as spatial planners and developers.
This is all the more important, since at the same time there is strong change in land use in Europe and especially in Germany. Currently four processes have strong impacts: land take for housing, commercial and transport, fragmentation by infrastructure, the conversion of land for renewable energies and the intensification of use in agriculture.
In this contribution indicators will be presented in order to identify spatial trends of this development and to evaluate Ecosystem Services. An overview of the developed indicators will be given and then three indicators will be explained in more detail.
The first one, the “Landscape attractiveness” describes a landscape’s potential for nature-based recreation. The indicator was derived from eight equivalent parameters for the determination of human use and landscape structure. It was supposed to be applicable with already existing geodata. A five-tier scale hereby assists with the requirement to provide a coarse classification of municipalities in regards to landscape attractiveness. An evaluation of the provision of cultural ecosystem services for landscape-oriented recreation becomes hereby possible.
Until now Germany's national land use monitoring systems have lacked an indicator to capture the naturalness respectively hemeroby of the landscape. Based on digital spatial data on land use and the mapping of potential natural vegetation, the second indicator has now been estimated for the whole of Germany. An index that considers all hemeroby classes of a reference area (e.g. administrative unit, regular grid cell) is presented as well as an indicator named “Proportion of certain natural areas”. The results on hemeroby of several time-cuts can be used to estimate the cumulative impact of land use changes on the environmental status.
The third indicator is focused on transition zones between habitats and on small landscape elements like hedges, copses and tree rows in open landscapes. Such elements are of high importance for conservation of biodiversity in general, but they also are habitats for pollinating insects necessary for agricultural production, they help to reduce soil erosion and they contribute to landscape aesthetics.
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