Land use and land cover change is an important driving force for changes in ecosystem services. We defined several important human-induced land cover change processes such as Ecological Restoration Project, Cropland Expansion, Land Degradation, and Urbanization by the land use / land cover transition matrix method. We studied human-induced land cover changes in the Yellow River Basin from 1980 to 2015 and evaluated its impact on ecosystem service values by the benefit transfer method and elasticity coefficient. The results show that the cumulative area of human-induced land cover change reaches 65.71 million ha from 1980 to 2015, which is close to the total area of the Yellow River Basin. Before 2000, Ecological Restoration Project was the most important human-induced land cover change process. However, due to the large amount of cropland expansion and land degradation, the area of natural vegetation was reduced and the ecosystem value declined. Since 2000, due to the implementation of the "Grain for Green" program, the natural vegetation of upstream area and midstream area of Yellow River Basin has been significantly improved. This implies that under an appropriate policy framework, a small amount of human-induced land cover change can also improve ecosystem services significantly.
Land-use/land-cover changes are considered the dominant form of anthropogenic pressure on the environment, causing changes in ecosystem service patterns and affecting water supply services. Using the spatial econometric technique, we analysed the impact of land-use/land-cover change on water ecosystem services for domestic use upstream and downstream of the Wami River Basin. The results in terms of land-use/land-cover classes during the study period (2011–2016) indicate that cultivated land showed maximum positive changes in both sub-catchments, while bushland and woodland showed maximum negative changes upstream and downstream. The results showed that bushland, woodland, cultivated land, and grassland were significantly correlated with water point characteristics in both sub-catchments. For functionality characteristics, a significant effect was observed in bushland and grassland upstream and downstream, respectively, while sufficient water was found in woodland upstream and grassland downstream. Moreover, bushland was observed to have a significant number of water points with poor quality of water upstream, and a substantial number of water points with good quality of water were found in grassland downstream. We found that all measured land-use/land-cover changes and water point characteristic correlations were statistically significant; therefore, we concluded that land-use/land-cover change affects the water ecosystem in the basin. These results could facilitate decision-making and development of related policies and might support finding sustainable strategies for water ecosystem services for domestic use.