Breaking ground: Assessing Soil Health in Fragmented Landscapes

Rapid urban development leads to fragmented landscapes. How does this affect soil health?

 

Breaking ground: Assessing Soil Health in Fragmented Landscapes 

Rapid urban development leads to fragmented landscapes. How does this affect soil health?

 

For centuries, human activities have substantially impacted the natural world. Our actions play a key role in shaping the balance between natural systems and human habitats, but they also often lead to degradation, particularly when it comes to soil health.

Anthropic activities, ranging from urbanization to industrialization 🏙, have profound effects on soil ecosystems. Unchecked urban sprawl, informal growth, and the deregulation of planning have transformed landscapes, exposing soils to constant degradation processes such as erosion, compaction, flooding, desertification, and loss of biodiversity. 🌳🚧

As urban areas expand and infrastructures occupy previously untouched lands, habitats become divided into smaller, isolated patches, creating a mosaic of urban areas, road infrastructure, and plots of agricultural land. The fragmentation of the natural landscape disrupts the connectivity both within and between natural and agricultural habitats, directly affecting soil functions and its ability to provide essential ecosystem services. The disruption of matter, energy, and biodiversity flows between different areas of the landscape weakens the resilience of ecosystems, making them more vulnerable to the impacts of environmental modifications and climate change. 🌍

Consider the implications of this for soil health: fragmented landscapes diminish the soil’s capacity to retain water and filter pollutants, leading to erosion and contamination. Moreover, the loss of ecological connections hinders vital functions such as organic matter decomposition and nutrient cycling, further compromising soil biodiversity and functionality. 🌱💧

Providing a clear index of soil health for benchmarking requires understanding how soil health is affected by the dynamics of urbanization. For this reason, the BENCHMARKS project includes urban case studies concerned with assessing the possible correlation of soil health samples across areas with different degrees of fragmentation. 📊🔍 Different indicators can be used to determine the degree of fragmentation and urban transformation in landscapes, including rural fragmentation index ranging from 0 (intact landscape) to 1 (max. fragmentation); Edge Density (ED), which indicates the fragmentation of the urban margins, from urban areas with a compact shape or regular boundaries to others with more jagged boundaries; indicators of compactness, such as the Largest Class Patch Index (LPI); and of diffusion, such as the Remaining Mean Patch Size (RMPS), which represents the average width of residual areas.

#UrbanSoils #SoilHealth #Fragmentation #BENCHMARKS

To find out more about the effects of urbanization on soils, watch our urban soil series.

Cows of BENCHMARKS Case study on Netherlands.
Cows of BENCHMARKS Case study on Netherlands.

For centuries, human activities have substantially impacted the natural world. Our actions play a key role in shaping the balance between natural systems and human habitats, but they also often lead to degradation, particularly when it comes to soil health.

Anthropic activities, ranging from urbanization to industrialization 🏙🏭, have profound effects on soil ecosystems. Unchecked urban sprawl, informal growth, and the deregulation of planning have transformed landscapes, exposing soils to constant degradation processes such as erosion, compaction, flooding, desertification, and loss of biodiversity. 🌳🚧

As urban areas expand and infrastructures occupy previously untouched lands, habitats become divided into smaller, isolated patches, creating a mosaic of urban areas, road infrastructure, and plots of agricultural land. The fragmentation of the natural landscape disrupts the connectivity both within and between natural and agricultural habitats, directly affecting soil functions and its ability to provide essential ecosystem services. The disruption of matter, energy, and biodiversity flows between different areas of the landscape weakens the resilience of ecosystems, making them more vulnerable to the impacts of environmental modifications and climate change. 🌍

Consider the implications of this for soil health: fragmented landscapes diminish the soil’s capacity to retain water and filter pollutants, leading to erosion and contamination. Moreover, the loss of ecological connections hinders vital functions such as organic matter decomposition and nutrient cycling, further compromising soil biodiversity and functionality. 🌱💧

Providing a clear index of soil health for benchmarking requires understanding how soil health is affected by the dynamics of urbanization. For this reason, the BENCHMARKS project includes urban case studies concerned with assessing the possible correlation of soil health samples across areas with different degrees of fragmentation. 📊🔍 Different indicators can be used to determine the degree of fragmentation and urban transformation in landscapes, including rural fragmentation index ranging from 0 (intact landscape) to 1 (max. fragmentation); Edge Density (ED), which indicates the fragmentation of the urban margins, from urban areas with a compact shape or regular boundaries to others with more jagged boundaries; indicators of compactness, such as the Largest Class Patch Index (LPI); and of diffusion, such as the Remaining Mean Patch Size (RMPS), which represents the average width of residual areas.

#UrbanSoils #SoilHealth #Fragmentation #BENCHMARKS

To find out more about the effects of urbanization on soils, watch our urban soil series.

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2024-06-27T15:32:36+00:00
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