The ecosystem services (ES) concept has been widely developed within the academic and political arenas (Fischer et al. 2009; Burkhard et al. 2012; Martín-López et al. 2012; Nedkov and Burkhard 2012), particularly after the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Recent research has acknowledged the importance of incorporating ES in territorial planning, in order to maintain the sustainability and resilience of social-ecological systems (Berkes and Folke 1998; Crossman et al. 2013; Radford and James 2013). The ES concept has become particularly relevant to assess the sustainability in rural-urban gradients, since cities are highly demanding areas (Kroll e al. 2012), which frequently leads to mismatches where the demand of ES is much higher than the supply. Therefore, mapping ES supply and demand in rural-urban gradients might be a powerful tool for integrating complex information and inform landscape planning and decision-making intended to maintain the current and future flow of ES (Egoh et al. 2008; Palomo et al. 2013).
Here, we developed a participatory mapping of ES in a rural-urban gradient that comprises the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the Granada valley and the city of Granada (Southern Spain). We interviewed 21 key stakeholders who prioritized nine ES in terms of their importance for local human wellbeing and their vulnerability to current drivers of change, including: fresh water, agricultural products, livestock products, habitat for species, air quality, soil fertility, rural tourism, aesthetic value of the landscape, and traditional ecological knowledge (TEK). Then, a workshop was organized, where 23 local actors shared their experience and knowledge regarding ES in the studied landscape, and spatially mapped the most important supplying and demanding areas for the nine ES previously selected.
The results showed that the city of Granada acts as a sink of every ES analyzed, with a very high demand and an almost inexistent supply of them. On the other hand, the Sierra Nevada mountain range appeared as a supplying area for almost every ES, except agricultural and livestock products, soil fertility and TEK. It is also a very demanding area, but all the demanded ES matched with the delivered ES (except for agricultural products, which are demanded but not supplied). Finally, the valley of Granada appeared as an important supplying area of agricultural products, soil fertility, and TEK, while only fresh water is demanded. These results show the value of rural landscapes along the studied gradient to ensure the maintenance of ES flows for human well-being, and their contribution to social-ecological sustainability and resilience. Incorporating the analysis of ES flows in landscape management practices would help to avoid existing mismatches of ES supply and demand between the city and the rural areas, as well as to achieve a new integrated model of landscape planning that respects the biophysical limits of ecosystems.
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