Effects of Land Use Changes on Ecosystem Services Value Provided By Coastal Wetlands: Recent and Future Landscape Scenarios

Vera Camacho Valdez, Arturo Ruiz-Luna and César Berlanga-Robles A

Wetlands are very sensitive to land use changes which alter supply and quality of their ecosystem services. This study analyzes the effect of land cover changes on the spatial and temporal patterns of the value of ecosystem services provided by coastal wetlands in northwest Mexico. These ecosystems have a high degree of naturalness, but are at risk because of land use changes promoted to reactivate regional development. Remote sensing and Markov chains modeling were used to estimate change trends, together with a value transfer approach for the ecosystem service valuation. The results indicated that the total flow of ecosystem service value tended to increase (18 million dollars (2007 USD)), presumably biased by the highest worldwide value assigned to saltmarsh/unconsolidated bottom, which increased in area by 8% during the study period. The most notable transition probability was observed between natural wetlands, highlighting littoral and saltmarsh as the classes with the highest probability of change over time. The southern part of the study area is the most susceptible to change, where unconsolidated bottom and forested mangrove (saltmarsh) are prevalent. Therefore, we can argue that the conservation of these coastal environments should be a priority in future land use management.