Space for people, plants, and livestock? Quantifying interactions among multiple landscape functions in a Dutch rural region

Willemen, L.; Hein, L.G.; Mensvoort, M.E.F. van; Verburg, P.H.


Rural landscapes are often multifunctional, meaning that at one single location different goods and services are being provided. Multifunctionality is spatially heterogeneous as not all areas are equally suitable to supply multiple goods and services. This suitability depends on favourable biophysical and socio-economic conditions and interactions among landscape functions. The objective of this paper is to identify and quantify interactions among landscape functions in a diverse and dynamic rural region, the Gelderse Vallei in the Netherlands. To be able to study these interactions first seven landscape functions (residential, intensive livestock, cultural heritage, tourism, plant habitat, arable production, and leisure cycling) are quantified and mapped using landscape indicators. These landscape function maps are subsequently aggregated to identify and quantify multifunctionality. The results of these analyses are used to study three aspects of landscape function interactions (a) influence of landscape characteristics on function interactions, (b) interrelations among landscape functions and (c) effect of multifunctionality on the different landscape functions. Landscape functions do not equally interact with one another, some landscape functions are affected negatively by the presence of other functions while other landscape functions benefit from multifunctionality. At multifunctionality hot spots different landscape functions are present that are enhancing one another. Additionally, in our study area it appears that mainly locations with landscape functions that sub-optimally provide goods and services are strongly multifunctional. Quantification and an improved understanding of landscape interactions will help to design and evaluate spatial policies related to the provision of multiple goods and services by the landscape