Gil, A., Fonseca, C. & Benedicto-Royuela, J. (2018) Land cover trade-offs in small oceanic islands: a temporal analysis of Pico Island, Azores.Land Degradation & Development, 29(2), 349-360. DOI:10.1002/ldr.2770 (IF2017 7,270; Q1 Soil Sciences)
Livestock production has been highly relevant in the Azores, boosted by European agricultural policies, increasing the demand for pasture and competing for space with other land uses. Therefore, it is important to understand the spatial evolution of pasture and related land use/land cover (LULC) trade-offs. This study describes a geographical information systems-based LULC change detection approach to identify, map and assess pasture-related land use changes and respective trade-offs in Pico Island in the period between 1998 and 2013 (15 years). Pasture in 1998 occupied a total area of 17,131 ha (about 39% of Pico Island surface), while in 2013, this same area was of 17,621 ha (about 40% of Pico Island surface). During this period, about 16,316 ha of pasture remained unchanged, while 2,110 ha (about 5% of Pico Island surface) of land use have changed from pasture to another land use (810 ha), or from a previous land use to pasture (1,300 ha). The whole pasture spatial dynamics and its net increase of 3% from 1998 to 2013 (490 ha, about 1% of Pico Island surface) were analysed through the identification, mapping and assessment of LULC trade-offs and interpreted according to several physical (elevation) and socio-economic/policy drivers. Pasture and livestock grazing activity with adequate management may not constitute per se threats to nature conservation and biodiversity protection in Pico Island, as the identified issues have been shown to be mostly related to the pasture dynamics (changes and respective trade-offs).