A method to identify the variable ecosystem services relationship across time: a case study on Yanhe Basin, China

Zheng, Z. M., et al., 2014. Landscape Ecology

Original research (primary data)
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Ecosystem services are increasingly recognized as the foundations of a well-functioning society. Large-scale ecological restoration projects have been implemented around China with the goal of restoring and sustaining ecosystem services, especially in vulnerable semi-arid regions where soil and water resources are most stressed due to historic human activities. The relationships among ecosystem services are often driven by land-use changes. It is necessary to develop an applicable method to explore the relationships between ecosystem services and driving factors over time. We selected the Yanhe Basin on China’s Loess Plateau as the study area, which has experienced a large-scale Grain for Green Project (GGP), and quantified four ecosystem services (soil conservation, water retention, water yield, and crop production). The results of this study show that different trends have occurred for ecosystem services during 2000-2008. We found potential tradeoffs between soil conservation and water yield. Synergies may exist among water retention and soil conservation/water yield. Two types of preconditions were pointed out in the analysis process to define the potential relationships among ecosystem service variables. The correspondence analysis was used to explore its intrinsic linkage and its variations among ecosystemservices, land uses, and spatial locations. It suggests that the intensities of the ecosystem services provided by most of land uses and the internal proportion of regulating service to provision service in a sub-basin has been changed by GGP, but the relative spatial patterns of ecosystem services are still being maintained in entire basin scale from 1980 to 2008.

Case studies

Basic information

  • Case ID: INT-200-1
  • Intervention type: Created habitats
  • Intervention description:

    GFGP … returning farm land to forest land shrub land and grass land

  • Landscape/sea scape ecosystem management: Yes
  • Climate change impacts Effect of Nbs on CCI Effect measures
    Other climate impact  Positive OTH = water retention modeled using an equation including "Velocity is the flow coefficient, TI is the topographic index, and Ksat is the soil saturated hydraulic conductivity."
    Reduced water availability  Negative water yield (mm) measured using a water yield model, mapped across the landscape
    Soil erosion  Positive soil conservation (ton/ha) calculated from the Universal Soil Loss Equation
  • Approach implemented in the field: Yes
  • Specific location:

    Yanhe Basin (E108°450– 110°280 , N36°230 –37°170 ) in Shaanxi Province in northwestern China as our study area. The Yanhe River is a first-order tributary of the Yellow River.

  • Country: China
  • Habitat/Biome type: Created forest | Created grassland | Created other |
  • Issue specific term: Not applicable


  • Notes on intervention effectivness: They measure how ES have changed over time "There is no significant difference in ecosystem services between 1980 and 2000, due to the absence of the GGP. From 2000 to 2008, for the entire basin, two ecosystem services (soil conservation and water retention) have been improved by returning farm land to forest land and grass land, but the other two ecosystem services (water yield and crop production) appear to have a tendency to decrease. " Also perform correspondance analysis to explore the relationship of ecosystem services with land-use types "The distances between the land- use points and ecosystem service points did not change from 1980 to 2000, but they did change from 2000 to 2008, for most of the land-use points. For example, points of 08_fa, 08_sh are beginning to depart from 80_fa and 00_fa, 80_sh and 00_sh separately (Fig. 7 in Supplementary Material), meaning that the GGP changed the intensities of the ecosystem services provided by farm land or shrub land. " ... "For a sub- basin, it shows that the internal proportion ofregulating service to provision service has been changed by GGP. For the entire Yanhe Basin, the GGP has still not changed the relative spatial patterns of the ecosystem services, though ecosystem services have been improved significantly throughout the entire study area (Figs. 3, 4, 5, and 6 in Supplementary Material). "
  • Is the assessment original?: Yes
  • Broadtype of intervention considered: Not applicable
  • Compare effectivness?: No
  • Compared to the non-NBS approach: Not applicable
  • Report greenhouse gas mitigation?: No
  • Impacts on GHG: Not applicable
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on natural ecosystems: No
  • Impacts for the ecosystem: Not reported
  • Ecosystem measures:
  • Assess outcomes of the intervention on people: No
  • Impacts for people: Not reported
  • People measures:
  • Considers economic costs: No
  • Economic appraisal conducted: No
  • Economic appraisal described:
  • Economic costs of alternative considered: No
  • Compared to an alternative: Not reported

Evaluation methodology

  • Type of data: Quantitative
  • Is it experimental: No
  • Experimental evalution done: Not applicable
  • Non-experimental evalution done: Empirical case study
  • Study is systematic: