Landscape Ecology

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 329–344 | Cite as

Land use change and ecosystem services provision: a case study of recreation and ecotourism opportunities in southern Chile

  • L. NahuelhualEmail author
  • A. Carmona
  • M. Aguayo
  • C. Echeverria
Research Article


Land use and cover change (LUCC) is among the most important factors affecting ecosystem services. This study examines the influence of LUCC on recreation and ecotourism opportunities over three decades in southern Chile. An in-depth analysis of the transition matrix was conducted based on Landsat images from 1976, 1985, 1999 and 2007. Main LUCC trajectories were linked to two ecosystem service indicators: (i) Recreation and ecotourism potential, measured in a 0–100 point scale; and (ii) Recreation and ecotourism opportunities, measured in visitors/ha. A total of 900 trajectories occurred in the landscape between 1976 and 2007. The most important trajectories in terms of area, were the recent degradation of old-growth to secondary forest between 1999 and 2007 (23,290 ha; 13.5 % of landscape), and the early clearing of shrublands for agriculture and pasture land between 1976 and 1985 (7,187 ha, 4.2 % of landscape). In turn, the single most influential trajectory on the magnitude of the indicators was early and permanent degradation of old-growth forest to secondary forest. As a result of these landscape changes, recreation and ecotourism opportunities for the entire landscape were reduced from 65,050 persons in 1976 to 25,038 persons in 1985, further declining to 22,346 and 21,608 persons in 1999 and 2007, respectively. This decrease resulted from changes in specific attributes (i.e. emblematic flora and fauna and forest structure) that were affected by forest degradation and fragmentation. These results highlight the substantial impact of LUCC on recreation opportunity decline, which mirrors biodiversity losses in the study area.


Ecosystem services mapping Forest fragmentation Recreation opportunities Landscape trajectories 



This research was funded by FONDECYT Grant No 1110741. The authors are grateful to Mr. Ian Kinney for his thorough revision of language and Ms. Ximena Catalán for her assistance in general editing.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Nahuelhual
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • A. Carmona
    • 1
    • 3
  • M. Aguayo
    • 4
  • C. Echeverria
    • 5
  1. 1.Instituto de Economía AgrariaUniversidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile
  2. 2.Fundación Centro de los Bosques NativosFORECOSValdiviaChile
  3. 3.Center for Climate and Resilience ResearchSantiagoChile
  4. 4.Centro EULAUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile
  5. 5.Laboratorio de Ecología de Paisaje, Facultad de Ciencias ForestalesUniversidad de ConcepciónConcepciónChile

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