Introducing landscape character assessment and the ecosystem service approach to India: a case study.
Landscape Character Assessment has provided the context for land use planning decisions and for identifying priorities for environmental restoration and enhancement in England since the 1990s. Increasing awareness of the importance of ecosystem services has led to the method being refined in order to enable informed management of change, with the inclusion of socioeconomic data and the identification of strategic management objectives providing an integrated approach to sustainable development in a changing This research, funded by the British Council UK-India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI), was prompted by concerns expressed by ecologists about the increase in the extent of an invasive plant species, Prosopis juliflora, in the district of Kachchh, Gujarat. A combination of Landscape Character Assessment and participatory appraisal were used in order to produce a Natural Character Area profile for the coastal plain. The process revealed that concerns regarding the spread of Prosopis were outweighed by its socio-economic importance as a source of fuel, charcoal, honey and gum. Their most pressing concern was the impact of recent industrial development on the environment, in particular water abstraction and pollution, crop predation by livestock and increasing soil salinity.