Do Forest Landscape Pattern Planning and Optimization Play a Role in Enhancing Soil Conservation Services in Mountain Areas of Western China?
2021, 31 (5):
The relationship between landscape patterns and soil conservation, as well as the need for nature-based soil erosion control and landscape pattern optimization, have increasingly gained attention in the scientific and political community in the past decade. With the implementation of a series of afforestation/reforestation projects in the western China, the optimization and management of forest landscape patterns will become more important for soil conservation. In this study, the Bailongjiang Watershed (BLJW), in the western China, was used as a case study to explore the relationship between the forest landscape pattern and soil conservation services using mathematical and spatial statistics methods. A spatially-explicit model called the sediment delivery ratio (SDR) model of the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) was used to assess the soil conservation service in each sub-basin of BLJW in 1990, 2002, and 2014, and landscape indices were used to describe changes in forest landscape patterns in each sub-basin. Nine forest landscape indices, including the percentage of landscape (PLAND), largest patch index (LPI), edge density (ED), landscape shape index (LSI), mean patch shape (SHAPE_MN), patch cohesion index (COHESION), landscape division index (DIVISION), splitting index (SPLIT) and aggregation index (AI), were significantly correlated to the soil conservation service. PLAND, AI, LSI and SPLIT of forestland were determined to be the more important landscape indicators. The results also indicated that soil conservation was substantially scale-dependent. The results demonstrated that landscape type diversity greatly affected watershed soil conservation and can be used for forest landscape restoration and management. Furthermore, spatial statistics analysis indicated that the Spatial Lag Model (SLM) was superior to the Ordinary Least Squares (OLS) for soil conservation regressions in 1990 and 2014, while OLS was more appropriate for the regression in 2002. These findings will be useful for enhancing soil conservation and for optimizing mountainous forest landscape patterns for afforestation/reforestation and regional development. Future planning and implementation of ecological restoration should focus more on strategic spatial planning and integrated landscape management with full consideration of future climate, water availability/consumption, hydrological regime, topography, and watershed features, especially on afforestation and revegetation projects in western mountainous China, where the socio-ecological system is fragile and poor.
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