Objective The prominent contradiction faced by rural tourism destinations is the interference of human tourism activities with natural ecological environment, which has resulted in a series of ecological challenges such as habitat destruction, environmental pollution, and decline of ecosystem service efficiency. Therefore, equal importance should be attached to recreational function and ecological function in landscape planning. The theory of landscape security pattern (LSP) is an effective way to coordinate development and construction with ecological protection. Many scholars try to apply LSP in the research and practice of rural landscape. However, simply constructing LSP by superimposing multifunctional landscape spaces actually blurs the tradeoffs among various ecosystem services (ESs), and still leads to potential conflicts in the planning and layout of multifunctional spaces. In view of this, this research aims to explore a comprehensive LSP reconstruction path to coordinate the tradeoff between recreational function and ecological function in rural areas, so as to promote the harmonious and sustainable development of rural tourism and ecological environment. This research may provide a reference for landscape planning of rural tourism destinations.
Methods This research takes Mashan, a typical rural tourist destination in Wuxi City, Jiangsu Province, as an example. Located in Taihu Lake National Tourism Resort, Mashan has experienced more than 30 years of tourism development. The research adopts multiple models of InVEST, ArcSWAT and MCR (minimum cumulative resistance) to simulate the spatial pattern, zoning and landscape corridor identification of ecological and recreational processes in the research area. The research divides the ecological security pattern into 5 levels and the recreational spatial pattern into 3 levels (including non-recreational areas), and divides twenty landscape units by superimposing ecological and recreational spatial patterns. Then, the research constructs a tradeoff matrix according to corresponding ecological and recreational importance levels of each landscape unit. Moreover, the research compares the importance of the two categories of functions to determine the construction focus and priority of each type of landscape unit, and then puts forward targeted planning, construction and control strategies for different types of landscape units. When the ecological and recreational functions of landscape units are both at a high level of importance, the tradeoff between the two categories of functions within the scope of such landscape units is significant, which requires the planning decision-makers to carefully consider the use of landscape resources. In addition, the collision points between important ecological corridors and recreational corridors are marked as landscape strategic points, which are the key to ensuring smooth ecological and recreational processes. During the design and construction of such strategic points, ecological connectivity should not be destroyed, and the integrity and continuity of the recreational process should be ensured.
Results Before reconstructing the eco-recreational LSP, the research firstly constructs the ecological security pattern and the recreational landscape space pattern respectively in the research area. The ecological security pattern of Mashan is composed of 5 ecological sources, 24 ecological corridors and important ecological nodes. In terms of the recreational landscape space pattern, five areas of cultural landscape resources are identified, and rural tourism products are developed differentially according to the characteristics of cultural resources in different areas. At the same time, a recreational landscape network is constructed to connect the core recreation areas, so that the regional cultural landscape resources can form a joint force for integrated development. Most importantly, the landscape function areas involved in the eco-recreational LSP of Mashan can be divided into eight types: ecologically centered area (EH), ecologically important area (EZ), primary eco-recreational tradeoff area (ER-ZQ), secondary eco-recreational tradeoff area (ER-CQ), recreationally centered area (RH), recreationally important area (RZ), recreational coordinated area (RX) and elastically developed area (TF). According to the tradeoff relationship between ecological and recreational functions in different types of areas, corresponding planning, construction and control strategies are determined. In addition, according to the simulation results of ecological and recreational landscape corridors, six important landscape strategic points are identified.
Conclusion Upon reconstruction, the rural eco-recreational LSP is no longer a simple superposition for the development of multifunctional landscape and the fuzzy processing of multiple ecosystem service tradeoffs. Instead, it is more conducive to scientific and precise management and utilization of rural landscape resources by distinguishing the construction focus and priority of each landscape unit and identifying the areas with significant tradeoffs, thus promoting the coordinated development of multifunctional landscape and giving full play to the role of comprehensive ecosystem services. In addition, the reconstruction of the rural eco-recreational LSP is based on the integration of multiple models such as InVEST, ArcSWAT and MCR, which not only protects important landscape structures, but also emphasizes the protection of key landscape processes. Admittedly, there are also limitations in this research. Comparing the importance levels of ecological and recreational functions is of certain subjectivity, and employing the more quantitative method can improve the scientificity of landscape functional zoning.