NØF 120117 .pdf

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LandPress: Land-use management to ensure ecosystem
service delivery under new pressures in heathlands
Siri Vatsø Haugum1*, Liv Guri Velle2, Vigdis Vandvik1, Pål Thorvaldsen3 & Iulie Aslaksen4. *Corresponding author e-mail: siri.haugum@uib.no

The case study
A major winter drought in 2014 led to massive
heather dieback in coastal heathlands, as well
as consecutive landscape fires. LandPress uses
this “natural experiment” to explore the
impact of land-use change in combination
with extreme climatic events in terms of
vegetation change, ecosystem resilience,
ecosystem services provisioning,
sustainability, and evidence-based
management and fire-risk prevention.

Prescribed burning is a key tool in traditional mangement of coastal Calluna heathlands.

Natural and social drivers
The heaths date back several millennia and were created and maintained by
a land-use regime involving extensive free-range grazing and prescribed
burning. Managed heathlands are typically burnt on a decadal scale,
resulting in a cyclical successional pattern, where Calluna passes through
characteristic before a new fire is set and the cycle starts again. Cessation of
management has turned the heathlands into a red-listed landscape in
Norway and the EU. To understand how climate change works in interaction
with land use intensity will be crucial for future heathland management.

Climate and extreme events

Land-use intensity

Ecosystem dynamics
We hypothesize that heathlands in early regenerative stages are less
susceptible to winter drought damage than old and degenerative heathlands
and that ecosystem resilience is higher in managed than in old and
degenerative Calluna stands.

Drought impact
Resillience after fire

Ecosystem services

Landscape fire risk

Traditionally, farming provided employment and food security for the rural
population, in addition to providing several ecosystem services and
important habitats. The decline of land-use intensity and large-scale
successional changes are not only leading to reduced goods, but also
potential increased costs, especially in terms of more severe wildfires. We
also hypothesize that the total carbon stock is higher in well-managed than
in abandoned heats.

Food production
Vegetation C stock
Soil C stock
Conceptual diagram showing the hypothesised impacts of management cessation in
interaction with more frequent extreme events due to climate change.

WP1: Quantifying
the extent
1: resilience
afterand WP 2: Impacts of severe
magnitude of the Calluna
drought events on heathlands
dieback of heathland species
ecosystem functioning
By using
colour aerial
photos, we will
quantify the amount of damaged and dead
Calluna along the coast on a landscape
scale and assess how this varies with land
use, local climatic conditions, vegetation
type, soil condition, and life-cycle stage.

Drought-damaged coastal heath in Nordland.

3: Land use
as a means WP 4: Ecosystem services in
2: controlled
restore ecosystem
coastal heathlands
Study the ecosystem services of the
after dieback

Drought experiments will be established A Before-After-Control-Impact
in field sites along a bioclimatic gradient experimental design with ‘fire’ and
‘climate’ as contrasts and repeated
following the coordinated distributed
measurements for the response to
experimental IDE**, imposing an
test if prescribed fire can restore
extreme drought over a four-year
ecosystem resilience after dieback.

Contrast between damaged and healthy Calluna. Prescribed burning of heath.

coastal heathland and the synergies
and trade-offs between the different
ecosystem services, including BenefitCost Analysis (BCA) to compare the
total economic value to society of
heathland management compared to

Wildfire at Flatanger in 2014. Copyright VG.


of Biology, University of Bergen, Norway.
2Møreforskning, Ålesund, Norway.
3Norwegian Institute for Bioeconomic Research, Tjøtta, Norway.
4Statistics Norway, Oslo, Norway.
**International Drought Experiment. See www.drought-net.org/

LandPress is funded by the Norwegian Research Council through the program MILJØFORSK.
The project will run from 2016-2019.

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