Impact of land use land cover changes on ecosystem service value - A case study of Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao in South China

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38 Citations (Scopus)


The rapid increase in anthropogenic activities, socioeconomic development, and land use land cover (LULC) changes since the opening of economic reforms (1978), have changed the ecosystem service value (ESV) in Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao (GKHM) region located in South China. This leads to the requirement of a significant tailored analysis of ecosystem services regarding incisive and relevant planning to ensure sustainability at regional level. This study focuses on the use of Landsat satellite imagery to quantify the precise impact of LULC changes on the ecosystem services in GHKM over the past three decades (1986-2017). The most renowned established unit value transfer method has been employed to calculate the ESV. The results show that the total ecosystem service value in GHKM has decreased from 680.23 billion CNY in 1986 to 668.45 billion CNY in 2017, mainly due to the decrease in farmland and fishponds. This overall decrease concealed the more dynamic and complex nature of the individual ESV. The most significant decrease took place in the values of water supply (-22.20 billion CNY,-14.72%), waste treatment (-20.77 billion CNY, -14.63%), and food production (-7.96 billion CNY, -33.18%). On the other hand, the value of fertile soil formation and retention (6.28 billion CNY, +7.26%) and recreation and culture (5.09 billion CNY, +12.91%) increased. Furthermore, total ESV and ESV per capita decreased significantly with the continuous increase in total gross domestic product (GDP) and GDP per capita. A substantial negative correlation exists between farmland ESV and GDP indicating human encroachment into a natural and semi natural ecosystems. The results suggest that in the rapidly urbanizing region, the protection of farmland and to control the intrusion of urban areas has marked an important societal demand and a challenge to the local government. This required a pressing need for smart LULC planning and to improve policies and regulation to guarantee ecosystem service sustainability for acceptable life quality in the study area and other fast expanding urban areas in China.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0231259
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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