Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 529–542 | Cite as

Impact of land cover change on ecosystem service supply in mountain systems: a case study in the Cantabrian Mountains (NW of Spain)

  • Paula García-LlamasEmail author
  • Ilse R. Geijzendorffer
  • Ana P. García-Nieto
  • Leonor Calvo
  • Susana Suárez-Seoane
  • Wolfgang Cramer
Original Article


Land abandonment and the loss of traditional farming practices are thought to control land cover dynamics, and hence the ecosystem service supply in traditionally managed mountain landscapes. We evaluate the impact of land cover changes in Cantabrian Mountains (NW Spain), over 1990–2012, on the potential supply capacity of ecosystem services (regulating, provisioning, and cultural) at both regional and local scales. We also analyze trends in the use of ecosystem services at the local scale. Land cover changes were estimated from CORINE Land Cover database. Patterns of potential ecosystem service supply were assessed by applying an ecosystem service supply capacity matrix and trends in their actual use by using field data. Main trajectories of land cover change encompassed woody vegetation spread in semi-natural open systems and agricultural expansion in the most suitable areas. The capacity of landscape to provide ecosystem services improved during 1990–2012 at both scales. We detected trade-offs between the potential supply of ecosystem services associated to natural systems and those linked to traditional land uses, at both regional and local scales. Changes in the potential supply of ecosystem services matched trends in ecosystem service use. This study could help develop future scenarios to address upcoming challenges in ecosystem service supply.


CORINE land cover Provision of services Capacity matrix Cultural services Regulation services Semi-natural landscapes 



We are grateful to the FPU mobility program of the Ministry of Education of Spain. We acknowledge support from European Union 7th Framework Programm through the projects EU BON (Contract No. 308454) and OPERAs (Contract No. 308393), as well as the French Laboratory of Excellence OT-Med (A*MIdex project 11-IDEX-0001-02). We are also grateful to the Junta de Castilla y León for providing data.

Funding information

P. García-Llamas was supported by a predoctoral fellowship from the Ministry of Education of Spain, with reference FPU12/05194; and by the FPU mobility programme of the Ministry of Education of Spain, with reference EST15/00528, for the financial support during a 3-month research stay at the Mediterranean Institute for Biodiversity and Ecology in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Supplementary material

10113_2018_1419_MOESM1_ESM.docx (86 kb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 85.5 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biodiversity and Environmental Management Department., Faculty of Biological and Environmental SciencesUniversity of LeónLeónSpain
  2. 2.Tour du Valat, Research Institute for the Conservation of Mediterranean WetlandsArlesFrance
  3. 3.Mediterranean Institute of Marine and Terrestrial Biodiversity and Ecology (IMBE), Aix Marseille University, CNRS, IRDAvignon UniversityAix-en-ProvenceFrance
  4. 4.FRACTAL CollectiveMadridSpain

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