Research Topic

Landscapes, Land-Use Change and Ecosystem Services in Colombia's Orinoquia Region: Recent Change and Future Prospects

About this Research Topic

The ecosystem services concept and its use in land-use change analysis and planning flourished over the last couple of decades. Much of the work in the tropics using these concepts and tools has focused on deforestation. But researchers have carried out much less work on analyzing land-use change in savanna environments. Many researchers question the cost and benefits of developing savannas, triggering debate about how to achieve sustainable development in these environments. Savanna environments hold high levels of biodiversity and provide multiple functions for freshwater ecosystems and water resources. They also represent climate change mitigation opportunities when conserving trees in the landscape, reforesting grasslands, or storing carbon in the soil. As such, there are many questions around how you could develop these regions and at the same time protect nature. The Science and Nature for People Partnership’s (SNAPP) Orinoquia Land Use working group proposes a Research Topic to address these issues in Colombia’s Eastern Plains region.

A number of research organizations have been working in the Colombian Orinoco region for some years now. Our organizations have been working on land-use, water resources and biodiversity, as well as land-use change, carbon stocks, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil health. Our organizations and partners have also studied socioeconomics of the region to evaluate how development affects local livelihoods. Many of the organizations are using land-use change and greenhouse gas inventory analysis developed by the Colombian government and others. Changes in land use are used as key input to estimating impacts on emissions, soils, biodiversity, and water resources. Modeling efforts show how increasing development in the region affected ecosystem services over recent years. Model and analytic results have been projected into the future, suggesting possible impacts of increasing development, according to scenarios developed with stakeholders. The results are particularly relevant to the Orinoquia region given high expectations for increased development in the coming years. The studies suggest these impacts are substantial and could diverge widely depending on land-use change trajectories into the future. The role of climate change and its direct and indirect effects on people and biodiversity need to be explored more thoroughly and incorporated in scenario planning exercises.

We welcome studies related to all topics stated above, and in particular, aspects such as those below:

• Land use and land use change in the Colombian Orinoco: detailed analysis of major land use categories and changes
• Biodiversity impacts of land use change
• Impacts of land use and land use change on soils, including organic carbon dynamics and stocks, below-ground biodiversity and fertility
• Water resources in the Colombian Orinoco and relationships with land use
• Freshwater ecosystem responses to land use change
• Fire and land use: implications for development
• Economics of land use and implications for future sustainable development
• Efforts to improve livelihoods, while also protecting plant and animal biodiversity and freshwater ecosystems, conserving soils, mitigating and adapting to climate change
• Spatial planning implications of land use change and scenarios for future changes


Keywords: land use change, ecosystem services, biodiversity, conservation, Orinoquia


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

The ecosystem services concept and its use in land-use change analysis and planning flourished over the last couple of decades. Much of the work in the tropics using these concepts and tools has focused on deforestation. But researchers have carried out much less work on analyzing land-use change in savanna environments. Many researchers question the cost and benefits of developing savannas, triggering debate about how to achieve sustainable development in these environments. Savanna environments hold high levels of biodiversity and provide multiple functions for freshwater ecosystems and water resources. They also represent climate change mitigation opportunities when conserving trees in the landscape, reforesting grasslands, or storing carbon in the soil. As such, there are many questions around how you could develop these regions and at the same time protect nature. The Science and Nature for People Partnership’s (SNAPP) Orinoquia Land Use working group proposes a Research Topic to address these issues in Colombia’s Eastern Plains region.

A number of research organizations have been working in the Colombian Orinoco region for some years now. Our organizations have been working on land-use, water resources and biodiversity, as well as land-use change, carbon stocks, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil health. Our organizations and partners have also studied socioeconomics of the region to evaluate how development affects local livelihoods. Many of the organizations are using land-use change and greenhouse gas inventory analysis developed by the Colombian government and others. Changes in land use are used as key input to estimating impacts on emissions, soils, biodiversity, and water resources. Modeling efforts show how increasing development in the region affected ecosystem services over recent years. Model and analytic results have been projected into the future, suggesting possible impacts of increasing development, according to scenarios developed with stakeholders. The results are particularly relevant to the Orinoquia region given high expectations for increased development in the coming years. The studies suggest these impacts are substantial and could diverge widely depending on land-use change trajectories into the future. The role of climate change and its direct and indirect effects on people and biodiversity need to be explored more thoroughly and incorporated in scenario planning exercises.

We welcome studies related to all topics stated above, and in particular, aspects such as those below:

• Land use and land use change in the Colombian Orinoco: detailed analysis of major land use categories and changes
• Biodiversity impacts of land use change
• Impacts of land use and land use change on soils, including organic carbon dynamics and stocks, below-ground biodiversity and fertility
• Water resources in the Colombian Orinoco and relationships with land use
• Freshwater ecosystem responses to land use change
• Fire and land use: implications for development
• Economics of land use and implications for future sustainable development
• Efforts to improve livelihoods, while also protecting plant and animal biodiversity and freshwater ecosystems, conserving soils, mitigating and adapting to climate change
• Spatial planning implications of land use change and scenarios for future changes


Keywords: land use change, ecosystem services, biodiversity, conservation, Orinoquia


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2021 Manuscript
15 May 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

28 February 2021 Manuscript
15 May 2021 Manuscript Extension

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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