Landscape Evaluation and Landscape Indicators

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The evaluation of nature is an inseparable part of the process of environmental/landscape planning, manage ment, and decision making. In recent decades, its importance has reached the global level. At local and regional levels, landscape assessment for planning and decision making processes is a key issue in sustainable landscape management.

One of the well known conceptual frameworks for ecological/environmental indicators is the driving forces (drivers) ! pressures ! state ! impact ! responses (DPSIR) approach, which treats the environmental man agement process as a feedback loop controlling a cycle consisting of these five stages.

Regarding the EU policy in biological and landscape diversity management (e.g., PEBLDS, the Pan European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy), it is useful to follow the DPSIR framework in reporting environmen tal issues. This approach treats the environmental management process as a feedback loop that controls a cycle consisting of these five stages. In addition, this introduces the term 'pressures' and adds 'impacts' - a concept that implies the cause-effect link.

The nitrogen cycle can be used as an example of the DPSIR approach in the intensification of agriculture:

• Drivingforce. Intensive agriculture;

• Pressure. Use of mineral fertilizers;

• State. Intensive loss of nitrogen from agricultural fields, high nitrogen concentration in rivers and groundwater, intensive gaseous N flux into the atmosphere, high excess nitrogen loading in ecosystems;

• Impact. Loss of biodiversity, eutrophication of water bodies, methemoglobinaemia, cancer risk, decreasing biodiversity, lower esthetical value of landscapes;

• Response. (1) Less mineral fertilizers and optimization of crop rotations with leguminous plants, especially in sensitive and potential core areas, (2) establishment of riparian buffer zones, (3) establishment of riverine and riparian wetlands.

On the other hand, the influence of marginalization (land abandonment) can also be characterized using the DPSIR

approach (Figure 2):

• Driving force. marginalization (abandonment of agriculture);

• Pressure. change of existing management scheme;

• State. loss of open landscapes, loss of various (grassland) biotopes;

• Impact. loss of biodiversity, loss of scenic values of landscape;

• Response. (1) subsidies for farmers to support traditional low input or ecological agriculture, (2) restoration and rehabilitation of valuable biotopes (wooded meadows, alvars), (3) (re )establishment of wetland biotopes in agricultural landscapes.

Using the DPSIR approach as a conceptual background, we consider landscape indicators as a system of structural and functional parameters that can be used to evaluate landscape pressure, state, and responses. The structural indicators are related to landscape structure (both tem poral and spatial), whereas functional indicators can be divided according to landscape functions (Table 1). Although there are several classifications of landscape functions and services, they can generally be classified according to the main themes of production (economic), living space or sociocultural (psychological, esthetic, ethical, and historical), and regulatory (ecological) processes.

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Homeowners Guide To Landscaping

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