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21-23 MARCH 2017

Final OpenNESS Annual Meeting in Smolenice, Slovakia

Case 12 - Living on the edge in a drying region: Case Kiskunság, Central Hungary

Please read the OpenNESS case study booklet 'Ecosystem services in operation' for the final outcomes of the cases. More detailed information about the cases and the tools and methods used can be found on Oppla: www.oppla.eu

Kiskunság Sand Ridge is an 8,300 km2 semiarid lowland region with large extents of inland sand dunes and shallow alkali lakes in Central Hungary. Approximately 100,000 people live there with another 300,000 in the surrounding towns and villages. The traditional land uses were pastures and grazing, as well as small-scale arable fields, vineyards and orchards. In the last 50 years, drainage, intensive farming and timber plantations have profoundly transformed the landscape, leading to shifting patterns of abandonment and cultivation, increased frequency of wildfires, as well as depopulation of the rural areas. As a result, the region's vulnerability to external socioeconomic and ecological drivers (especially to global climate change) increased.

The most important regulations for the region are agri-environmental schemes, forestry subsidies, nature conservation management plans issued by the Kiskunság National Park Directorate, Natura 2000 land use rules, and the Water Framework Directive. These regulations shape the "regulatory landscape" which actually drives land use changes between arable fields, forest plantations, orchards, vineyards, pastures or fallow lands, which regenerate relatively quickly in this region. This heterogeneous, dynamic, and policy-sensitive landscape of the Kiskunság region provides an ideal setting to study the complex interlinkage of the regulatory environment, land use, biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human well-being.

We plan to estimate the changes in some key ecosystem services based on extensive biodiversity and environmental monitoring data. Non-monetary valuation methods will be used to estimate the social value of key ecosystem services. Participatory methods will be applied to study and resolve the emerging conflicts between farmers, forest managers, nature conservation and water authorities. Based on the results of this interdisciplinary research process actual land use patterns could be restructured to better reflect the importance of ecosystem services. Moreover, results may also be used as inputs for the participatory renewal of local and regional land use plans within the study area.