Land Degradation and Ecosystem Services

  • Zhanguo Bai
  • David Dent
  • Yunjin Wu
  • Rogier de Jong
Chapter

Abstract

Destructive land use is driving long-term losses of ecosystem function and productivity. Satellite measurements of Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) since 1981 provide a global yardstick, revealing that a quarter of the land surface has been degrading over the last quarter of a century; every continent and biome is affected with Africa south of the equator, southeast (SE) Asia and south (S) China hardest hit. The loss of primary productivity is equivalent to more than a billion Mg C but the associated emissions from loss of biomass and soil organic carbon are much greater. Degradation is not confined to farmland (18 % of the degrading area is cropland; 47 % is classed as forest); neither is it strongly associated with drylands, population pressure or poverty. A case study using more detailed data for China explores the effects of soil resilience and the association between land degradation and land use. NDVI can only be a proxy measure of land degradation; assessment of ecosystem services is a further step removed. Remotely-­sensed data can be used along with climatic and topographic data as an input to models that predict the provision of these services but the processes, drivers and effects beyond NPP are unseen and more importantly, unmeasured. This is an issue for emerging markets in environmental services.

Keywords

Land degradation Normalized Difference Vegetation Index Land use Soil Climate Ecosystem services 

Abbreviations

AVHRR

Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer

CGIAR-CSI

The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Consortium for Spatial Information

CIESIN

Center for International Earth Science Information Network, Colombia University

CRU TS

Climate Research Unit, University of East Anglia, Time Series

EUE

Energy-Use Efficiency

FAO

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome

GIMMS

Global Inventory Modelling and Mapping Studies, University of Maryland

GLASOD

Global Assessment of Human-Induced Soil Degradation

HANTS

Harmonic Analyses of NDVI Time-Series

JRC

European Commission Joint Research Centre, Ispra, Italy

MOD17A3

MODIS 8-Day Net Primary Productivity data set

MODIS

Moderate-Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer

NDVI

Normalized Difference Vegetation Index

NPP

Net Primary Productivity

RESTREND

Residual Trends of sum NDVI

RUE

Rain-Use Efficiency

SOC

Soil organic carbon

SOTER

Soil and Terrain database

SRTM

Shuttle Radar Topography Mission

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zhanguo Bai
    • 1
  • David Dent
    • 2
  • Yunjin Wu
    • 3
  • Rogier de Jong
    • 4
  1. 1.ISRIC – World Soil InformationWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Merchants of Light, Chestnut Tree Farm, Forncett EndNorfolkUK
  3. 3.Nanjing Institute of Environment SciencesMinistry of Environment ProtectionNanjingP. R. China
  4. 4.Remote Sensing LaboratoriesUniversity of ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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