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Changes in demand and supply of ecosystem services under scenarios of future land use in Vorarlberg, Austria

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Ecosystem services (ES) are highly impacted by human-induced land-use change. Progressive urbanization and agricultural land abandonment in Western Europe necessitate assessments of future land-change impacts on ES to ensure sustainable service management. The present study aims at evaluating future demand and supply of three key services (flood protection, nearby recreation and biodiversity) in the mountainous region of Vorarlberg, Austria. We mapped the ES for the referenced time step 2016 and two scenarios for 2050, assuming the continuation of current land-change trends and pressure on landscape development. Results for the referenced landscape in 2016 show the highest ES supply for intermediate levels, while ES supply was low in the lowlands and valley bottoms and in high-elevation areas. We found a high positive correlation of ES with the distribution of forested areas. In contrast, service demand was highest in low-elevation areas and decreased with increasing elevation. This indicates that densely settled and intensively used agricultural areas currently suffer from ES undersupply. The projected future development of land use showed an increase in both supply and demand of the selected ES. The overall service supply increased more than the respective demand due to some reforestation of open land. As forests were found to be important synergistic areas for overall service provision, we expect decreasing demand on related services. Locally, demand was found to exceed the supply of ES, especially in the densely populated Rhine valley- requiring further policy interventions. Such ES-related information may contribute to regional policy making and ensure the long-term provision of ESs for future generations.

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This paper is the result of the HiFlow-CMA project conducted by alpS and WSL, funded by the Austrian Climate and Energy Fund (ACRP 8th call). We thank the two reviewers for their insightful comments. We also gratefully acknowledge the “Land Vorarlberg” for contributing GIS layers including land-use data.

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Sauter, I., Kienast, F., Bolliger, J. et al. Changes in demand and supply of ecosystem services under scenarios of future land use in Vorarlberg, Austria. J. Mt. Sci. 16, 2793–2809 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11629-018-5124-x

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  • Land-use change
  • Future land-use scenarios
  • Regional assessment
  • Ecosystem services
  • Synergies
  • Conflicts