Assessment the trend of changes in ecosystem services by monitoring land use changes in North and Northeast of Iran

Document Type : Research Article


Department of Agrotechnology, Faculty of Agriculture, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


Rapid population growth as primary driving force connected with increasing food requirements generate great pressure on future land use, environment, natural resources, and ecosystem services. Ecosystem services are highly vulnerable to land use changes caused by human activities, such as construction and intensive agricultural development. Assessment of land use relationships and ecosystem services in the past researches has shown that there is a very strong relationship between different types of land uses and all kinds of ecosystem services.
Materials and Methods
In this research, changes of ecosystem services assess according land use changes in North and Northeast of Iran (Golestan, North Khorasan, Razavi Khorasan & South Khorasan province) in 1984, 1992, 2000, 2008 & 2015 based on the interpretation of Landsat satellite imagery and creating Ecosystem Services Value Index (ESVI) by providing weights or priorities for elements of ecosystem services in AHP model.
Land uses of urban areas, croplands, pasturelands, trees cover & shrublands, bare lands and water bodies ranked from the point of view of effective factors in providing ecosystem services by the AHP model. In this method the points of view of knowledgeable specialist were used to paired comparison and the final ranking by the AHP queries. Analysis of these data performed by Expert Choice software.
The weights that provided due to ranking of land uses based providing ecosystem services were converted to percent. Also, the areas of each land use in the study provinces (resulted from remote sensing and land use classification) and in the periods of study, converted to percent of the total area of each province.
The equation 1, was used to calculated the contribution rate of each land use in total ecosystem services:
(equation 1)
: Contribution of land use type in total ecosystem services in each year, : Percentage of land use area from total area of any province in each year, : Percentage of AHP weights of the total ecosystem services for any land use type in each year
The value converted to percent at ratio to the total of value in each year. Thus, the contribution percentage of any land use type defined from the total of ecosystem services in each year.
The contribution percentage of all types of ecosystem services (Provisioning, Supporting, Regulating and Cultural services) calculated too by the equation 1.
The equation 2 was used to estimate the total ecosystem services value:
(equation 2)
: The total ecosystem services value, : Land use area from total area of any province in each year,: Index of ecosystem services for any land use type

To analyses uncertainties in the ecosystem, the sensitivity of the individual land use types to total ESV estimation was examined. The coefficient of sensitivity (CS) was used in order to highlight the importance of land use based on their contribution to the total ESV. The higher the CS value, the more important the corresponding land use type to the total ESV. The CS defined according to equation 3:

(equation 3)
CSi: Coefficient of sensitivity, : Land use area from total area of any province in each year,: Index of ecosystem services for any land use type, : The total of ecosystem services value
Finally, the estimated values of ESV and CS were used to investigated the trends of changes in ecosystem services in study area over the past three decades.
Results and Discussions
The results showed in Golestan province the contribution ratio of tree covers and shrublands in providing ecosystem services gradually replaced with pastureland’s ratio. In all study provinces the contribution ratio of tree covers and shrublands decreased in providing ecosystem services. Ecosystem Provisioning Services (EPS) increased cause of development in cropland areas in Golestan and Razavi Khorasan provinces and decreased cause of decreasing in that land use in North Khorasan and South Khorasan. The contribution ratio of pastureland’s services increased in all study provinces, but it increased more in Golestan and Razavi Khorasan provinces. Golestan province had the most ecosystem services with 18 units per km2 and North Khorasan and South Khorasan had the lowest ecosystem services with 10 units per km2 between all study provinces. This research could show trends of changes in ecosystem services and contribution ratio of every land use in providing these services in study area in 1984~2015 according land use changes.

The authors acknowledge the financial support of the project by Vice President for Research and Technology, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Iran. We thank Mr. Kazemi Beniaz, M. and Miss Khosravi A. for providing valuable advice on remote sensing.


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Articles in Press, Accepted Manuscript
Available Online from 01 January 2024
  • Receive Date: 18 November 2018
  • Revise Date: 05 October 2019
  • Accept Date: 07 October 2019
  • First Publish Date: 27 November 2020