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A twenty year GIS-based assessment of environmental sustainability of land use changes in and around protected areas of a fast developing country: Spain

AuthorsRodríguez-Rodríguez, David ; Martínez Vega, Javier ; Echavarría Daspet, Pilar
KeywordsLand use-land cover
Process of change
Natura 2000
BACI design
Issue Date2018
CitationInternational Journal of Applied Earth Observation and Geoinformation 74: 169-179 (2019)
AbstractSpain has experienced massive recent socioeconomic changes that have had an influence on biodiversity and landscapes through land use-land cover (LULC) changes. Protected areas (PAs) seek to conserve biodiversity by establishing a legal and, sometimes, managerial regime that forbids or restricts LULC changes that are damaging to biodiversity. Here, we used CORINE Land Cover (CLC) data between 1987 and 2006 to assess differences in LULC changes and processes of change as metrics of effectiveness in four PA networks of clear legal and managerial characteristics in Spain: Nature reserves (NRs), Nature parks (NPs), Sites of Community Importance (SCIs) and Special Protection Areas (SPAs). We also compared LULC changes and processes of change around each PA network applying a modified Before-After-Control-Impact (BACI) research design with two increasingly distant control areas and two models of increased validity. The four PA networks were more environmentally sustainable than their surrounding areas although an effectiveness gradient was shown: NRs > SCIs > SPAs > NPs, suggesting little influence of PA management on LULC changes overall. Another gradient of environmental sustainability of control areas was evident: SCIs > SPAs > NPs > NRs. Proximal controls were more sustainable than distant ones. The main LULC increases inside PAs affected agro-forestry areas and transitional woodland-shrub, whereas artificial surfaces, permanently irrigated lands and burned areas prevailed in the proximal and distant controls. Three main LULC processes of change inside and around Spanish PAs outstood: forest succession, land development, and new irrigated areas, the two former chiefly affecting surrounding areas and posing serious threats to effective biodiversity conservation.
Publisher version (URL)https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0303243418305002
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