Canadian Forest Service Publications

Assessing land clearing potential in the Canadian agriculture-forestry interface with a multi-atttribute frontier approach. 2015. Yemshanov, D.; Koch, F.H.; Riitters, K.H.; McConkey, B.; Huffman, T.; Smith, S. Ecological Indicators. 54:71-81.

Year: 2015

Issued by: Great Lakes Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35923

Language: English

Availability: PDF (request by e-mail)

Available from the Journal's Web site.
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2015.02.019

† This site may require a fee

Mark record


EU countries are required to perform an assessment of all freshwater habitats larger than 50 ha by 2015 to meet the requirements set by the Water Framework Directive (2000). To achieve this, an array of indicators and multimetric indices has been developed to monitor European waters. In general, these indicators are developed for large water bodies, while they are still largely lacking for smaller wetlands. This is in contrast with the conservation value, valuable ecosystem services and the often unique biodiversity of these systems, and the fact that like large (>50 ha) wetlands they are also covered by the Ramsar Convention. In (semi) arid regions, such as the Mediterranean basin, small water bodies are often of a temporary nature, are abundant and provide an important source of water for the local people, their livestock and agriculture. The quantity and quality of temporary wetlands are, however, decreasing at an alarming rate worldwide. Although some monitoring techniques were recently proposed, there is still an urgent need for a consistent policy and a user friendly set of monitoring tools for temporary wetlands that can be applied in different regions. In the following review, we present a whole range of indicators used to monitor different types of freshwater habitats, and discuss how some of these methods could be applied to temporary wetlands. Finally, we formulate some recommendations for temporary wetland monitoring and conservation.

Plain Language Summary

The pattern of forest land clearing can be viewed as a gauge of sustainable (or unsustainable) use of agricultural and forest resources. In this study we examine the geographical distribution of land clearing potential in the Canadian agriculture-forestry interface and propose a new landscape-scale indicator that quantifies this potential. We consider the possibility that forested land will be cleared for agriculture as a trade-off between the land’s capacity to support agriculture and its comparative value if it remains forested. However, this trade-off is complicated by the land’s susceptibility to fragmentation, which derives from the local pattern of forest, agriculture and other land cover types. We find the locations in the agriculture-forestry interface with the highest land clearing potential by delineating nested multi-attribute frontiers in the dimensions of the land’s agricultural capacity, its estimated forest productivity and its fragmentation potential. The multi-attribute frontier concept addresses our lack of knowledge about the relative importance of these multiple drivers of land conversion by objectively combining them into a single-dimensional land clearing pressure metric in a geographical setting. Overall, our approach provides a simple yet informative indicator which reveals the geographical stratification of land clearing pressures across large regions. In general, the spatial delineation of areas with high land clearing potential agrees well with recent evidence of land clearing and deforestation events in Canada.