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Protecting nature is necessary but not sufficient for conserving ecosystem services: A comprehensive assessment along a gradient of land-use intensity in Spain

Santos-Martín, F., Zorrilla-Miras, P., Palomo, I., Montes, C., Benayas, J., Maes, J.
Ecosystem services 2019 v.35 pp. 43-51
conservation areas, ecosystem services, governance, intensive farming, land use change, landscapes, models, planning, Spain
Land-use intensification is occurring worldwide and is impacting the delivery of multiple ecosystem services. We developed an approach to understand land-use change in relation to ecosystem services synergies and trade-offs at a national level. We test the proposed approach for Spain by mapping the spatial distribution of 14 high-resolution indicators with the aim to (a) facilitate a greater understanding of the spatial interactions among ecosystem services; (b) identify the hotspots of ecosystem service synergies and trade-offs; and (c) explain the ecosystem service synergies and trade-offs in relation to a land-use intensity gradient. Our results show how current land-use management in Spain is creating a landscape-level dichotomy between land-use intensification and protection (through the declaration of protected areas), which is having a clear negative effect on the conservation of essential ecosystem services. For example, we spatially identify where agricultural intensification is presenting a major trade-off with other ecosystem services. Finally, we discuss the urgent need for a new comprehensive model of landscape planning at a national scale that takes into account the complex interactions among ecosystem services and the establishment of a new governance body at national level regarding the management and conservation of ecosystem services.