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Plieninger T.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Plieninger T.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Gaertner M.,Stellenbosch University
Journal for Nature Conservation | Year: 2011

Land degradation affects an estimated 24% of the global land area. While predominantly discussed as an environmental problem, degraded lands have recently been reconsidered as an untapped resource for production industries like agriculture and forestry. Here, we investigate the biodiversity potential of degraded land compared to both used and undisturbed land. First, we find that " degraded lands" and related terms cover a wide variety of socio-ecological settings and that a standardized terminology is clearly needed. Second, degraded lands may support biodiversity levels similar to or even above those of surrounding managed landscapes. However, degraded lands generally support less biodiversity than natural areas. Third, some principles to harness degraded lands for biodiversity conservation have been developed. If applied, degraded areas may provide opportunities to extend nature conservation strategies on a broader spatial scale, and they may serve as a buffer between protected areas and intensively used land. We conclude that efforts to capitalize on degraded lands for commodity crop production generate conflicts with biodiversity conservation that have been disregarded so far. © 2010 Elsevier GmbH.

Plieninger T.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Plieninger T.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Dijks S.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Oteros-Rozas E.,Autonomous University of Madrid | Bieling C.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg
Land Use Policy | Year: 2013

Numerous studies underline the importance of immaterial benefits provided by ecosystems and especially by cultural landscapes, which are shaped by intimate human-nature interactions. However, due to methodological challenges, cultural ecosystem services are rarely fully considered in ecosystem services assessments. This study performs a spatially explicit participatory mapping of the complete range of cultural ecosystem services and several disservices perceived by people living in a cultural landscape in Eastern Germany. The results stem from a combination of mapping exercises and structured interviews with 93 persons that were analyzed with statistical and GIS-based techniques. The results show that respondents relate diverse cultural services and multiple local-level sites to their individual well-being. Most importantly, aesthetic values, social relations and educational values were reported. Underlining the holistic nature of cultural ecosystem services, the results reveal bundles of services as well as particular patterns in the perception of these bundles for respondent groups with different socio-demographic backgrounds. Cultural services are not scattered randomly across a landscape, but rather follow specific patterns in terms of the intensity, richness and diversity of their provision. Resulting hotspots and coldspots of ecosystem services provision are related to landscape features and land cover forms. We conclude that, despite remaining methodological challenges, cultural services mapping assessments should be pushed ahead as indispensable elements in the management and protection of cultural landscapes. Spatially explicit information on cultural ecosystem services that incorporates the differentiated perceptions of local populations provides a rich basis for the development of sustainable land management strategies. These could realign the agendas of biodiversity conservation and cultural heritage preservation, thereby fostering multifunctionality. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.

Schaich H.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg | Plieninger T.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Plieninger T.,Copenhagen University
Forest Ecology and Management | Year: 2013

In European cultural landscapes, forest area is subdivided into a mosaic of stands of different ownership types and sizes. Differences in ownership and different goals of the owners have a potentially decisive influence on the provision of forest ecosystem services and the implementation of instruments for the conservation of biodiversity. This study hypothesizes that forest ownership is an indirect determinant of forest management approaches and is thereby relevant for biodiversity conservation and carbon sequestration. We compared structure and species composition of forest stands in clusters of different ownership types, namely state-owned, municipal and small-scale private forests, in southwestern Germany. Although close-to-nature management has been practiced in public forests for some time, our study demonstrates that tree species diversity does not vary significantly between ownership types but is correlated with biogeographical factors. However, small-scale private forests comprise significantly higher levels of structural diversity, more dead wood and greater carbon storage capacity than both categories of public forests. This is contrary to other studies, where publicly owned lands were found to host higher biodiversity, and differs from the global trend, where continued fragmentation of private lands threatens forest sustainability. The importance of small-scale private forests, e.g. for the conservation of old-growth and dead wood dependent species, seems due to less intensive and more diverse forest management. The role of such forests for biodiversity conservation and carbon regulation may be jeopardized through forest conversion and wood mobilization initiatives accompanying rising natural resource prices. To safeguard forest biodiversity and ecosystem services, ownership-specific incentive schemes should be coordinated and refined. In public forests, close-to-nature management approaches should be complemented with binding goals aimed at promoting old-growth forest attributes and allowing site-specific variation in management practices. To conserve diversity in small-scale private forests, financial incentives and remuneration schemes for the provisioning of forest biodiversity and ecosystem services should be developed. Moreover, consulting and the provision of information on sustainable forest and conservation management should be intensified. © 2013 Elsevier B.V.

Hernandez-Morcillo M.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Plieninger T.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Bieling C.,Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg
Ecological Indicators | Year: 2013

Over millennia human well-being has benefited from ecosystems, not only through tangible goods, but also through intangible assets known as cultural ecosystem services. Despite growing research over the last decade, cultural services assessment still remains arbitrary and is largely limited to marketable services such as tourism. Evident difficulties in standardizing definitions and measurements have challenged cultural services accounting in decision making processes. However, the imminent formation of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services offers an opportunity to counterbalance this misrepresentation by establishing a scientific basis for consistently assessing cultural services. In that regard, the current review intends to facilitate discussion investigating the current state of cultural services accounting by offering an appraisal of existing evidence regarding cultural services indicator quality. The review builds on scientifically recognized frameworks to develop a holistic understanding of how cultural services indicators are conceived within ecosystem services research. Among the measures found, benefit indicators were most frequently used for assessing inspirational, educational and recreational services. A broad variety of methods for accounting cultural services was found, mainly due to the varied aims of the studies. Most of the cultural services indicators were deficient concerning their clarity of definitions, purposes and understanding of the processes to be measured and referring only marginally to tradeoffs and bundles with other services. Only 17% performed multitemporal assessments and 23% used spatially explicit information. It seems that indicator quality could be greatly enhanced by investing more effort toward involving relevant stakeholders in conceptualization and communication phases, using participatory mapping tools to enhance visibility. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd All rights reserved.

Germer S.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Neill C.,The Ecosystems Center | Krusche A.V.,University of Sao Paulo | Elsenbeer H.,University of Potsdam
Journal of Hydrology | Year: 2010

Soil compaction that follows the clearing of tropical forest for cattle pasture is associated with lower soil hydraulic conductivity and increased frequency and volume of overland flow. We investigated the frequency of perched water tables, overland flow and stormflow in an Amazon forest and in an adjacent 25-year-old pasture cleared from the same forest. We compared the results with the frequencies of these phenomena estimated from comparisons of rainfall intensity and soil hydraulic conductivity. The frequency of perched water tables based on rainfall intensity and soil hydraulic conductivity was expected to double in pasture compared with forest. This corresponded closely with an approximate doubling of the frequency of stormflow and overland flow in pasture. In contrast, the stormflow volume in pasture increased 17-fold. This disproportional increase of stormflow resulted from overland flow generation over large areas of pasture, while overland flow generation in the forest was spatially limited and was observed only very near the stream channel. In both catchments, stormflow was generated by saturation excess because of perched water tables and near-surface groundwater levels. Stormflow was occasionally generated in the forest by rapid return flow from macropores, while slow return flow from a continuous perched water table was more common in the pasture. These results suggest that deforestation for pasture alters fundamental mechanisms of stormflow generation and may increase runoff volumes over wide regions of Amazonia. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Plieninger T.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Plieninger T.,Humboldt University of Berlin | Rolo V.,University of Extremadura | Moreno G.,University of Extremadura
Ecosystems | Year: 2010

In Central-Western Spain, forests and woodlands composed of Quercus sp. support outstanding levels of biodiversity, but there is increasing concern about their long-term persistence due to a lack of regeneration. We hypothesize that this regenerative lack is operating on a large geographic scale; that there are differences in the abundance of regeneration between three oak species; that oak regeneration is governed mainly by forest management and structure; and that shrubs act as important physical protectors of seedlings and saplings. We analyzed whether densities of oak seedlings and saplings in several size classes were related to stand-structure, understory, and physiographic variables potentially affecting regeneration. Data collected at a regional level (1 km × 1 km grid) by the Spanish Forest Inventory were evaluated from 2,816 plots. Results revealed that regeneration failure was common for all size categories, from small seedlings to large saplings, and for the three oak species studied, especially the evergreens. Of the Quercus ilex, Q. suber, and Q. pyrenaica plots studied, 49%, 62%, and 20% were lacking any small seedlings, and 82%, 96%, and 56% did not have any large saplings, respectively. Regeneration was positively correlated with tree cover and density, especially of small and medium-sized trees, and negatively correlated with the presence of large trees, indicating that regeneration failure is mostly associated with more open, uniform, and/or aged woodlands. Regeneration densities of Q. ilex and Q. suber were positively correlated with all understory variables, suggesting that the presence of pioneer shrubs represent a major safe site for early tree recruitment, independent from specific shrub species. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

Plieninger T.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Plieninger T.,Humboldt University of Berlin
Applied Geography | Year: 2012

This study explores the potential of historical maps to detect, measure and monitor changes of trees outside forests. The main goal is to assess local-level changes of scattered trees and orchards and their land-use determinants in two areas in Southern Germany between 1901/1905 and 2009. Firstly, overall landscape changes are recorded. Secondly, the spatial-temporal trajectories of scattered trees and their land-use determinants are identified. Thirdly, changes in quantity and fragmentation patterns of traditional orchards are analyzed in their relationship to overall land-cover change. The results confirm major losses in scattered trees, mainly due to urbanization, agricultural intensification, and land abandonment. They further reveal that, while orchards have persisted in total area, they have undergone critical changes toward a simplified landscape structure and loss of the traditional land-use mosaic, which is a characterizing feature of high nature value landscapes. Multi-temporal assessment showed that most trends have been continuous and did not change directions over time, but rather accelerated during periods of rapid change (most dramatically in the 1950-1990 period). The case of orchards and scattered trees illustrates a major problem of cultural landscapes in Europe: Semi-natural landscape features of high nature value are threatened by both intensification and abandonment of land uses. This makes their conservation a potentially costly enterprise, as both opportunity costs for lost alternative land uses and for conservation management costs arise. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Germer S.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Werther L.,University of Potsdam | Elsenbeer H.,University of Potsdam
Journal of Hydrology | Year: 2010

Stemflow was monitored on event-basis in an undisturbed open tropical rainforest with a large number of palm trees located in the southwestern Amazon basin of Brazil. We estimated stemflow of 24 trees with a diameter at breast height (DBH) over 5cm and of 16 juvenile and eight aborescent babassu palms (Orbignya phalerata Mart.). To obtain within-event stemflow variability we monitored stemflow of one additional aborescent babassu palm with a tipping-bucket rain gauge at 5-min intervals. Total stemflow of the forest accounted for 8.0±1.8% (S.E.) of incident rainfall and reached the forest floor over an area corresponding to the total basal area that sums up to only 0.3% of the plot area. The most influential predictive variables for stemflow generation were DBH and rainfall amount. The stemflow parameter 'funneling ratio', which is normalized for DBH and rainfall amount, was particularly useful to highlight the relevance of small trees (DBH≤10cm) for stemflow generation. Small trees and babassu palms had significantly higher funneling ratios than larger trees (median funneling ratios: 15-27 and 1-2, respectively). The maximum 5-min stemflow intensity (1232mmh-1) was 15-fold that of rainfall. High funneling ratios of small trees and babassu palms suggest that high stemflow intensities are the rule rather than the exception. Therefore, we expect small trees and babassu palms to influence hydrologic processes as subsurface flow, saturation overland flow or groundwater recharge. Consequently, stemflow studies should include all DBH classes and species with exceptionally high funneling ratios. For modeling purposes, stemflow should be estimated and not just assumed if study sites have a large number of palms or of small trees. © 2010 Elsevier B.V.

Schleyer C.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities | Plieninger T.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities
Environmental Conservation | Year: 2011

Agricultural crops and pasturelands cover 24'38% of the global land area, and thus the ecological services that agricultural systems provide are of utmost societal importance. An important determinant of ecosystem services provision from European farmland is the amount and spatial arrangement of trees, shrubs and woodlands that are integrated into the respective land-use systems. This paper uses an institutional economics framework for the analysis of payment schemes for ecosystem services (PES schemes) that enhance the establishment, conservation and management of farm trees and woodlands, elaborating on the reasons for the often very reluctant participation of farmers in these schemes. PES schemes in Saxony (Germany) were selected as a typical example. Obstacles identified included high production costs and opportunity costs for land use, contractual uncertainties, land-tenure implications and heterogeneous societal preferences for ecosystem services of farm trees. Further, since scheme adoption has been relatively low compared with the total area covered by the respective farm tree types in Saxony, the PES schemes alone could not explain the substantial increase in number and size of some farm-tree types, in particular hedgerows. Regionalized premiums, result-oriented remuneration and cooperative approaches are options to improve participation in PES schemes for farm trees. The example of PES schemes for farm trees highlights one of the major challenges for the protection and preservation of cultural landscapes: they are man-made and thus need to be preserved, managed and maintained continuously. © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2011.

Theesfeld I.,Leibniz Institute of Agricultural Development in Central and Eastern Europe | Schleyer C.,Berlin Brandenburg Academy of science and Humanities
Environmental Policy and Governance | Year: 2013

The design and implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) in Germany has clearly been inspired by the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) concept. The paper shows, however, that Germany's current river basin management follows a light version of IWRM, by only coordinating groundwater and surface water responsibilities rather than integrating various water related sectors. When assessing the current implementation of the WFD, Article 14 on participation is crucial. This is because the establishment of participatory forums involving stakeholders and the general public is directly related to the question of fit between the administrative and political boundaries of water management and the hydrogeological territory of a river basin. We argue that management concepts that simultaneously aim at integration and participation, such as IWRM, seem to pull in opposite directions. Based on document analysis, an extensive literature review and interviews with key informants, two cases of river basin management in Germany - Ems and Warnow-Peene - empirically substantiate the argument that participation needs to be linked up effectively with the existing, democratically legitimized decision-making structures, which becomes more complicated the more decision-making power and responsibilities are integrated. Moreover, we found that most national, federal and regional state activities are still limited to simply informing and consulting people. The paper ends with recommendations on how to improve governance structures for water management while embracing Germany's approach of light IWRM. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd and ERP Environment.

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