In China, rural tourism refers to a new form of tourism that relies on the beautiful natural landscape, architecture, folk culture and other unique resources of rural areas. Rural tourism in particular drives land use change, which results in ecosystem services provision being altered.
By integrating InVEST models and socio-economic data, researchers performed a comprehensive temporal and spatial assessment of the impact of tourism-driven land use change on ecosystem services. They also examined the tradeoffs between tourism income and provision of ecosystem services in Erhai Lake Basin (ELB), a typical rural tourism area in China.
The results showed that constructed area increased in ELB from 2000 to 2015, especially in the lakeside zone, at the expense of agriculture, grass, and forest, due to the recent tourism boom. Tourism revenue increased dramatically between 2000 and 2015, but nitrogen and soil exports increased significantly in the same period, resulting in deteriorating water quality in Erhai Lake and causing severe environmental problems in ELB.
Since 2018, rural tourism has been undergoing an unprecedented boom in China. However, Chinese central and local governments are under great pressure to protect Erhai Lake ecosystems and other similar tourism locations, and action is urgently needed to achieve this.
The study showed that tourism-driven land use change in ELB has had an important impact on the provision of multiple ecosystem services. This in turn has implications for optimal ecosystem management and decision making.
“For development of environmentally friendly future tourism in ELB, a sustainable form of tourism should be established. Before any land development activities, the tradeoffs between tourism development and ecosystem services provision should be fully considered in future land use planning and management,” said Dr. BAI Yang from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden (XTBG).
The study entitled “Impacts of rural tourism-driven land use change on ecosystems services provision in Erhai Lake Basin, China” has been published in Ecosystem Services.
The study was supported by West Light Talent Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Key Research Program of Frontier Science.
BAI Yang Ph.D
Center for Integrative Conservation, Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Menglun, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China