Managing sustainable landscapes: tools for integrating ecological restoration into land planning in the Region of Valencia

Authors and Affiliations: 

Andreu Bonet, Department of Ecology and IMEM, University of Alicante. Alicante, Spain.
Jordi Cortina, Department of Ecology and IMEM, University of Alicante. Alicante, Spain.
Alejandro Acebal, IMEM, University of Alicante. Alicante, Spain.
Antonio Aledo, Department of Sociology I, University of Alicante. Alicante, Spain.
Mchich Derak, Direction Régionale des Eaux et Forêts et de la Lutte Contre la Désertification du Rif, Tétouan, Morocco.
Germán López, Department of Ecology and IMEM, University of Alicante. Alicante, Spain.
Guadalupe Ortiz, Department of Sociology I, University of Alicante. Alicante, Spain.
Elysa Silva, IMEM, University of Alicante. Alicante, Spain.

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Ecological restoration can provide potential solutions to real-world landscape sustainability problems. Policies and actions have commonly focused on optimizing the short-medium term performance of plant species and natural resources (Bonet et al., 2006). They have prioritized wood production and biophysical aspects of the combat against desertification, paying scarce attention to the management of landscape sustainability and underlying interests of human populations and global change (Peña et al., 2007). The advancement of dryland restoration of Mediterranean landscapes demands the reconstruction of landscapes and the integration of restoration actions into land planning (Derak & Cortina, 2014). This new approach must address biotic, technical, socio-economic and cultural constraints, and respond to society aspirations.
The TERECOVA Project aims (i) to identify restoration priority areas in Mediterranean landscapes, integrating the multiplicity of stakeholder perspectives, socio-economic changes and climate change, (ii) assess the impact of restoration scenarios on the provision of ecosystem services, and (iii) identify optimal restoration scenarios based on cost-benefit analysis.
Our goal is to contribute to improving the methodological framework for the restoration of degraded Mediterranean landscapes (Derak et al, 2016; 2017), providing new insights on the interplay between natural and socio-economic systems. It will also lay the foundations for effective participation in restoration actions, and for the joint exploration of business opportunities that may result in improved biodiversity, landscape functioning, the provision of goods and services, and human welfare.
The participatory approach to identify priority areas for restoration (Derak & Cortina, 2014) was applied in a semi-arid Mediterranean landscape: the Crevillente Management Area (CMA), Valencia Region, in southeast Spain (224,472 ha), in collaboration with the Environmental Department of the Valencian Regional Government. A wide stakeholder platform was conducted to select priority criteria for landscape ecological restoration and valuate the main ecosystem services obtained from each landscape unit (LU) in CMA (Derak et al., 2017). Using GIS we defined susceptible areas in LU for restoration, based on ecosystem services and selected criteria. Then, restoration protocols for areas in LU were developed and evaluated in terms of cost/benefit.
This methodology framework would be extrapolated to other Management Areas in the Valencian Region and to other landscapes with the aim to improve ecosystem services and increasing landscape sustainability.


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