A hierarchical approach for mesoscale assessment of landscape functions: modeling – parameters – integration in environmental planning

Martin Volk


The landscape is created by a characteristic distribution of its components (land use, land cover, soil, morphology, hydrology, climate, geology etc.) which results in the landscape structure. The components of the landscape structure are interrelated by fluxes of water, material, energy and information (landscape ecological processes) which result in the landscape balance. Human impacts – such as land use - affect these interactions by changed conditions for the fluxes. The human factor „land use” within the complex ecosystem has a strong impact on the adaptability, the regeneration and regulation capability of the landscape balance. As most of the relevant processes in the landscape are depending mainly on the mobile agent water, they have influences reaching from small to large scales. But the understanding of these processes on large scale is still insufficient, as most of the process-oriented studies are carried out on small scales. Concepts for sustainable development have to consider the imple-mentation of information on the landscape balance on larger scale, because most of the environmental changes become obvious on the landscape level. For the characterization of the ecological and economic capability of the landscape, the concept of landscape functions has been proved useful (cp. Bastian 1999; de Groot, 1992, Marks et al., 1992). But most of the given and useful suggestions for the assessment of landscape functions are limited to scales up to 1:25.000 (cp. Marks et al. 1992), and the importance of parameters – and the parameters itself - of the landscape functions change in a hierarchical spatio-temporal way (cp. Helming & Frielinghaus, 1999; Klijn, 1995; Volk, 1999). This problem should be solved by an investigation of their scale-specific applicability.

Therefore, the following questions should be answered:

- How does the importance of parameters (and parameters themselves) of their landscape balance components - morphology, soil, hydrology, land use and cover and climate - change on different scales?

- How does the impact of land use and land use changes affect the landscape balance on different scales?

In our project, the parameters and indicators suggested by other studies were proved (cp. AG Boden, 1994; Bastian & Schreiber, 1994; Frede & Dabbert, 1999; Marks et al., 1992) and modified for their capability at the middle and upper mesoscale (cp Krysanova et al., 1996). For an integrated landscape analysis, we aim at combinating both „top-down” and „bottom-up” approaches with GIS-coupled model applications. In cooperation with governmental authorities and environmental and geological agencies, we checked out the integration possibilities of the assessment and modeling results into landscape planning processes. This paper includesexamples of our approach – at first focused to a „top-down” method - applicated to regions of Eastern Germany.


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