A framework for regional ecosystem authenticity evaluation–a case study on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau of China
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionGlobal Ecology and Conservation. 2021, 31 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gecco.2021.e01849
Ecosystem authenticity is a concept for understanding the status of an ecosystem and provides useful information for making environmental management plans. However, approaches for quantitative ecosystem authenticity evaluation over large area are still rare. In this study, a conceptual framework of “Pattern-Process-Function-Resilience” is proposed to quantitatively evaluate regional ecosystem authenticity. Firstly, a composite index is calculated to estimate the self-adjustment ability and the level of biodiversity of the ecosystem. Then, the ratio between the composite indices are computed at the final and initial periods, and used to determine whether the ecosystem authenticity is protected or damaged, as well as the degrees to which the authenticity is protected or damaged by categorizing the ratio into five levels. A case study was conducted to quantify and evaluate the ecosystem authenticity over the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau (QTP) and the alternative locations of its twenty national parks from 2000 to 2015. Results show that regions with protected or damaged ecosystem authenticity cover about 95% and 5% of the entire QTP, respectively. Five of the twenty national parks alternative locations have damaged ecosystem authenticity. Areas with damaged authenticity are mainly distributed over the southeastern QTP, which suffered from deforestation and increased frequency of mountain hazards, including debris flow, flash flood, landslide, collapse, and snow avalanche. The approach presented in this study is instrumental to support future case-specific management and restoration strategies.