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An insight into land-cover changes and their impacts on ecosystem services before and after the implementation of a comprehensive experimental zone plan in Pingtan island, China

Shifaw, Eshetu, Sha, Jinming, Li, Xiaomei, Bao, Zhongcong, Zhou, Zhenglong
Land use policy 2019 v.82 pp. 631-642
Landsat, agricultural land, ecosystem services, environmental impact, free trade, habitat fragmentation, international tourism, land cover, landscapes, least squares, socioeconomics, surface water, sustainable land management, variance, China
Pingtan Island has undergone changes in socio-economic and policy environment with significant effect on land cover change (LCC) and ecosystem service values (ESV). The most notable changes in both land cover and ESV were linked to Pingtan Comprehensive Experimental Zone (PCEZ) plan, economic development plan with the aim of making Pingtan an international tourism island and free trade zone. However, evaluation of LCC and its impact on ESV is not yet attempted in the area. Using multispectral Landsat images, value transfer method and socioeconomic data, this study aims to quantify and track LCC, landscape pattern and ESV (2003–2017). The results showed that farmland, forest land and urban land covered >74% of the total area in the years considered. The class-to-class transition was also substantial among them. During the period 2003–2010, LCC was slow with stable areas of 73.52%. In the second period (2010–2017), it showed remarkable differences with the highest change in water bodies (9.76% less than its initial proportion), urban land (9.47% higher), farmland (8.67% less) and the stable areas reduced to 63.87%. Regardless of class-level variations, landscape fragmentation generally increased but shape irregularity among patches decreased during the study period. The total ESV was 32 million US$ in 2003. It changed slowly in the first period (1.61%/year) and rapidly in the second period (–2.869%/year) that caused the overall net loss of 4.35 million US$ (13.594%). Partial least square regression model also showed the highest variance of ESV (85%) due to the variance of LCC (92%), whereas it exhibited less variance owing to the variance of landscape pattern. Following PCEZ plan, the policy reforms accelerated construction land and economic development that negatively affected ecosystem services. Our results could help understand the relationship between LCC and ESV along with socioeconomic and policy factors to make sustainable land management interventions.