Exploring the Elasticity of the Temporal Relationship between Ecosystem Services and Human Wellbeing: Evidence from Inner Mongolian Drylands
24 Pages Posted: 28 Nov 2022
Date Written: November 8, 2022
Studies of the ecosystem services (ES) and human wellbeing (HWB) relationship have proliferated in recent decades, but most of them have focused on their spatial correlations. Few have examined the questions of how ES affect HWB over time in a region (i.e., the temporal relationship between ES and HWB) and how this relationship changes between regions. This is especially true for drylands. Thus, this study was intended to address these questions using long-term data from four dryland areas across Inner Mongolia, China. We first quantified multiple indicators of ES and objective HWB from 1978 to 2019, and then analyzed their temporal relationship over the entire duration and during four development periods, respectively. The results showed that HWB indicators were often positively correlated with provisioning and cultural services, but showed diverse relationships with regulating services. Importantly, our study revealed that, depending on the specific indicators, development periods (time scales of analysis), and geographic regions, the temporal ES-HWB relationship could change significantly in terms of both correlation strength and directionality (i.e., positive, negative, or no correlations). The variations in the relationship over different development periods may have occurred in response to changing environmental and socioeconomic conditions driven primarily by policy shifts and climate change. The variations in the relationship between regions were most likely due to spatial heterogeneity in underlying drivers. These large spatiotemporal elasticities in the temporal ES-HWB relationship have important policy implications. In general, sustainable management in Inner Mongolian drylands must be temporally adaptive and spatially tailored to optimize the ES and HWB relationship.
Keywords: Ecosystem services, objective human well-being, temporal relationship, dryland
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