Can we measure ecological sustainability? Landscape pattern as an indicator for naturalness and land use intensity at regional, national and European level

C. Renetzeder, S. Schindler, J. Peterseil, M.A. Prinz, S. Mücher, T. Wrbka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

69 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

European landscapes have been shaped over the centuries by processes related to human land use, which are reflected in regionally distinct landscape patterns. Since landscape pattern has been linked to biodiversity and other ecological values of the landscapes, this paper explores landscape pattern as a tool for ecological sustainability assessments at the regional (Austrian Cultural Landscapes), national (Austria) and European (European Union + Norway, Switzerland) level with focus on agricultural landscapes. A set of landscape metrics served as a basis to assess naturalness and geometrisation of Austrian and European landscapes as a proxy for their sustainability. To achieve an accurate spatially explicit assessment, we applied a spatial reference framework consisting in units that are homogeneous in biophysical and socio-economic contexts, adapted the regional approach for its application at European level, and developed relative sustainability thresholds for the landscape metrics. The analyses revealed that several landscape metrics, particularly the “Number of Shape Characterising Points” showed a high correlation with the degree of naturalness. The sustainability map of Austria based on an ordinal regression model revealed well-known problem regions of ecological sustainability. At the European level, the relative deviation from the average pattern showed clearly the simplification processes in the landscapes. However, a better spatial resolution of land cover data would add to the refinement of pattern analysis in regions and therefore the assessment of sustainability. We recommend the combination of information of different scales for the formulation and implementation of sustainability policies
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-48
JournalEcological Indicators
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Keywords

  • agricultural landscapes
  • species richness
  • diversity
  • metrics
  • environment
  • models
  • scale
  • areas

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