Landscape Services Assessment: A Hybrid Multi-Criteria Spatial Decision Support System (MC-SDSS)

2017 Sustainability  
This research aims to test a scalable and transferable Geographic Information System (GIS)-based evaluation methodology for the identification, quantification and assessment of multi-functional landscape features. The evaluation of multi-functional features is one of the key tasks required when it comes to identifying the values that people attribute to landscapes, according to the principles of the European Landscape Convention. Mapping the static distribution of Landscape Services (LS)
more » ... data-derived estimates and performing spatial composite indicators are fundamental steps in understanding the current state of the Social-Ecological System (SES) of threatened or resilient landscapes. The methodological process is structured in four phases: intelligence (i), design (ii), choice (iii) and outcome (iv), according to the framework of the Multi-Criteria Spatial Decision Support System (MC-SDSS). This process has been implemented in the case study of the National Park of Cilento, Vallo di Diano and Alburni (Italy). The weighting of the spatial indicators, which simulates the model of LS-functioning for the study area, derives from an entropy-based method. Such a method, by which the weights are estimated without decisional agents, concerns a key-concept of information entropy theory, whereby the amount of information for each criterion determines its relative importance within a defined set of spatial criteria. The output of the model concerns mapping composite indicators of the LS; this involves the macro-categories of Regulating, Provisioning, and Cultural Services. two likely scenarios: the breakdown or the breakthrough. While the breakdown generates conflicts or an irreversible loss of resources/values, the breakthrough fosters relationships between the human being and the ecosystem of the urban, rural, semi-natural and natural landscapes, according to a total sustainability perspective [6, 7] . After examining the above considerations, it is clear that an understanding of the drivers affecting the meaningful changes to the landscape SES is one of the critical challenges which must be managed when tackling sustainability issues [8] . In Europe, the European Landscape Convention (ELC) [9] made a statement about the fundamental rights of citizens; it aimed to recognise their own landscapes and, consequently, to safeguard the primary resources, services and benefits which the landscapes guarantee for human well-being [10, 11] . The ELC addresses a new paradigm which aims to increase the amount of knowledge and the number of conservations relating to the landscape SES. As such, the strong relationship between the landscape's ability to provide goods/services and the human need to preserve the functioning of the ecosystems must be fostered by the citizens and local communities [12, 13] . Moreover, the fundamental, and most ambitious, goal of the ELC concerns the improvement of landscape quality as a whole; indeed, this is reflective of citizens' ambitions regarding the identity-related features of their life environment. According to this perspective, the human being is the core subject; his or her ability to investigate the critical features of a landscape, to stimulate changes, and to evaluate a landscape's multi-functional features can be considered one of the driving forces behind identifying the values that people attribute to landscapes [14] . Multi-functional landscapes can be considered as those landscapes which are able to provide multiple functions and values and which focus on the degree of multi-functionality that is affected by the spatial distribution and scale of the geographical features that supply services and benefits for human well-being [15, 16] . The consideration of multi-functional landscapes is vital when it comes to developing sustainable landscapes; this allows for the co-existence of compatible and competing uses, and also makes efficient use of limited space and time, produces advantages of synergy, and contributes to the economic vitality and environmental quality of cities, while also developing a wide and lasting support from the different users of their functions [15] . Indeed, multi-functional landscapes should be perceived as tangible mixed natural and cultural interacting systems; the design of sustainable multifunctional landscapes requires transdisciplinary approaches that make full use of the available science and technology, based on a true engagement between scientists, practitioners and professionals involved in land use decision-making [17] [18] [19] . While multi-functionality has become a keyword in terms of understanding the sustainability of different landscape types [20] [21] [22] [23] , considering the SES theory within the evaluation methods of multi-functional landscapes is useful in improving the knowledge of services and their demand on both a local and regional scale [24] . Indeed, Termorshuizen and Opdam (2009) recommended the landscape services (LS) concept as a common ground for a trans-disciplinary study which would be able to link together the main topics of landscape ecology and sustainability. According to the authors, the LS can be seen as a specification of the Ecosystem Services (ES) concept, and landscape multi-functionality can be understood by investigating the spatial configuration of the benefits and services for humans on the scale of the landscape. Moreover, the LS concept, as a multi-dimensional approach in ecological economics which includes ES, enables an evaluation of the structure/function/value chains of the landscapes [3, 22] . Moreover, according to [25] , the concept of the LS involves the social dimensions of the landscape and the spatial patterns resulting from both natural and human processes in the provision of benefits for human well-being [25] . Thus, knowledge of the dynamics of the landscape must interact with the values linked to the planning of new landscape patterns and functional changes. The inclusion of landscape and ecosystem services in the decision-making process makes it possible to reduce the loss of the natural capital by considering the public and private benefits which the ecosystems produce for human well-being [26, 27] .
doi:10.3390/su9081311 fatcat:ovwyjx6nsnbvniu2cw53ksno5i