Impacts of large-scale landscape restoration on spatio-temporal dynamics of ecosystem services in the Chinese Loess Plateau

Hao Chen*, Luuk Fleskens, Johanna Schild, Simon Moolenaar, Fei Wang, Coen Ritsema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Context: From 1999 onwards, China has initiated a large-scale landscape restoration project in the Chinese Loess Plateau, which has had profound but variable impacts on the local ecosystem services supply. The dynamics of ecosystem services throughout the restoration process remain poorly understood. Objectives: To analyze the spatial and temporal dynamics in ecosystem services before and after the implementation of the land restoration project, and to understand trade-offs and synergies between multiple ecosystem services. Methods: We used the InVEST model and statistical yearbook data to quantify the ecosystem services over the period 1990–2018 for the Yan’an area and applied the concept of ecosystem service bundles to understand the dynamics of 11 ecosystem services over its 13 constituent counties. Results: A significant increase of fruit production, sediment retention, habitat quality, aesthetic landscape value, and learning and inspiration value was found over time in the Yan’an area, while a decrease of timber production and water yield was also observed. The majority of the county-level ecosystem service bundles were transformed from having a focus on timber production to aesthetic landscape value. The dynamics of ecosystem services change induced by land restoration was discovered to start with increasing regulating services at the expense of provisioning services, while cultural services exceeded regulating services and occupied the main proportion subsequently. Conclusion: Both trade-offs and synergies were found between provisioning, regulating and cultural services. Implementation of the large-scale restoration project is recognized as a key driving force inducing change of ecosystem services, starting with an improvement of regulating services followed by a gradually evolving prominence of cultural services.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLandscape Ecology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Oct 2021


  • Ecosystem service bundles
  • InVEST model
  • Land restoration
  • Trade-offs and synergies


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