Qualifying Land Use and Land Cover Dynamics and Their Impacts on Ecosystem Service in Central Himalaya Transboundary Landscape Based on Google Earth Engine | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
February 2021
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© 2021 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article.

Land use and land cover (LULC) changes are regarded as one of the key drivers of ecosystem services degradation, especially in mountain regions where they may provide various ecosystem services to local livelihoods and surrounding areas. Additionally, ecosystems and habitats extend across political boundaries, causing more difficulties for ecosystem conservation. LULC in the Kailash Sacred Landscape (KSL) has undergone obvious changes over the past four decades; however, the spatiotemporal changes of the LULC across the whole of the KSL are still unclear, as well as the effects of LULC changes on ecosystem service values (ESVs). Thus, in this study we analyzed LULC changes across the whole of the KSL between 2000 and 2015 using Google Earth Engine (GEE) and quantified their impacts on ESVs. The greatest loss in LULC was found in forest cover, which decreased from 5443.20 km2 in 2000 to 5003.37 km2 in 2015 and which mainly occurred in KSL-Nepal. Meanwhile, the largest growth was observed in grassland (increased by 548.46 km2), followed by cropland (increased by 346.90 km2), both of which mainly occurred in KSL-Nepal. Further analysis showed that the expansions of cropland were the major drivers of the forest cover change in the KSL. Furthermore, the conversion of cropland to shrub land indicated that farmland abandonment existed in the KSL during the study period. The observed forest degradation directly influenced the ESV changes in the KSL. The total ESVs in the KSL decreased from 36.53 × 108 USD y−1 in 2000 to 35.35 × 108 USD y−1 in 2015. Meanwhile, the ESVs of the forestry areas decreased by 1.34 × 108 USD y−1. This shows that the decrease of ESVs in forestry was the primary cause to the loss of total ESVs and also of the high elasticity. Our findings show that even small changes to the LULC, especially in forestry areas, are noteworthy as they could induce a strong ESV response.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Gu, Changjun
Zhang, Yili
Liu, Linshan
Li, Lanhui
Li, Shicheng
Zhang, Binghua
Cui, Bohao
Rai, Mohan K.


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