Depopulation impacts on ecosystem services in Mediterranean rural areas
Resumen: Despite the exponential increase in human population at global scale, some rural areas have experienced a progressive abandonment over the last decades. Under particular socioecological and policy contexts, changes in demography may promote land-use changes and, consequently, alter ecosystem services (ES) supply. However, most studies on this topic have targeted urban population increase, whereas depopulation has been rarely addressed. Here, we examined how shifts in demographic variables (human population, population density, and number of villages) affect provisioning (water supply, food and biomass production) and regulating (soil retention, water and nutrient regulation) ES in Mediterranean rural areas with contrasting environmental, so-cioeconomic and land-use contexts. When depopulation results in underuse of socio-ecological systems, we ex-pected a decrease of provisioning and an increase of regulating ES, whereas we expected the opposite pattern when it results in land-use intensification. To test this hypothesis, we compared demographic data and ES estimated with Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT) linked to land-use changes between the 1950s and 2000s in three rural areas of Arag ́on (NE Spain). Generalized Additive Mixed Models and Linear Mixed-Effect Models were used to analyze demographic trends, ES changes and the relationship between them. We found severe depopulation (− 42% inhabitants) and associated land-use changes in the three areas, which was particularly evident in isolated mountainous zones (− 63% inhabitants). Depopulation trends significantly affected land use and, consequently, all of the ES evaluated. In mountainous depopulated areas, land abandonment and rewilding resulted in the increase in water regulation (>1000%) and soil retention (>400%). In contrast, agriculture was intensified in more fertile and easy-to-access lowland areas, boosting the food production service (>600%). Accordingly, the interactions among depopulation, crop production and regulating ES should be considered in the management schemes and policies targeting rural areas for a balanced and sustainable supply of ES in the long term.
Idioma: Inglés
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2021.101369
Año: 2021
Publicado en: Ecosystem Services 52 (2021), 101369 [11 pp.]
ISSN: 2212-0416

Factor impacto JCR: 6.91 (2021)
Categ. JCR: ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES rank: 19 / 128 = 0.148 (2021) - Q1 - T1
Categ. JCR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES rank: 57 / 279 = 0.204 (2021) - Q1 - T1
Categ. JCR: ECOLOGY rank: 15 / 174 = 0.086 (2021) - Q1 - T1

Factor impacto CITESCORE: 11.7 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences (Q1) - Social Sciences (Q1) - Environmental Science (Q1)

Factor impacto SCIMAGO: 1.749 - Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous) (Q1) - Ecology (Q1) - Nature and Landscape Conservation (Q1) - Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law (Q1) - Global and Planetary Change (Q1)

Financiación: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/ES/DGA/E40-17R
Financiación: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/ES/MCIU/RYC2018-025160-I
Financiación: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/ES/MEC/FPU14-01682
Financiación: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/ES/MINECO/CGL2014-53017-C2-1-R
Financiación: info:eu-repo/grantAgreement/ES/MINECO/FJCI2016-29856
Tipo y forma: Article (Published version)
Área (Departamento): Área Ecología (Dpto. CC.Agrar.y Medio Natural)
Área (Departamento): Área Análisis Geográfico Regi. (Dpto. Geograf. Ordenac.Territ.)

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