Considering landscape-level processes in ecosystem service evaluations

28th October 2020

This week’s CCI conservation seminar will be delivered by Prof Jean-Paul Metzger from the University of São Paulo.

Join us on Zoom from 4-5pm GMT.

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://jbs-cam.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwod-uvrDkrHt1xJWY2tOgJAPn8INWolZZ_

The provision of ecosystem services is inherently spatial. Landscape structure can affect the provision of services through multiple landscape-level processes, such as fragmentation, edge and connectivity effects, and these processes can affect supply and demand areas, as well as the flows that link those areas. Despite the emergence of ecosystem service assessments in the last decade, landscape-level processes are still poorly considered. Most infer service provision by evaluating only ecosystem service supply, ignoring demand and flows. Others focus on the local effect of landscape composition on supply or demand, and underestimate configuration or contextual landscape effects on supply, demand and flows. Here we argue that ecosystem service assessments need to incorporate the effects of landscape-level processes in the full provision chain, considering supply, demand and flow. We discuss the implication of disregarding demand and flow, and show the importance of incorporating landscape-level processes through a simple conceptual model. Using a continuous approach, this model allows to capture landscape heterogeneity and spatial configuration of supply and demand areas, just as it allows to explore processes related to ecosystem service connectivity.

 

Additionally, we integrate social science research on landscape governance and research in biology and ecology on the mechanisms that regulate ecosystem services into a conceptual framework of ecosystem services governance. The proposed ‘landscape governance framework’ links different types of governance interventions, e.g. creation of protected areas (PA), payments for ecosystem services (PES), and community-based management (CBM) with changes in the landscape structure, and thus in areas of supply, demand and flows within the  ‘ecosystem services provision network’. It allows us to identify where and how each of these interventions act on the landscape and on the service provision networks. This, in turn, allow us to identify appropriate actions considering different problematic situations (undersupply, overdemand or insufficient flow connecting areas of supply and demand).

At a time when it is increasingly clear that sustainable development depends on the appropriate valuation of ecosystem services, it is essential to better incorporate landscape-level processes in ecosystem service assessments, so that they can be more quantitatively accurate and spatially precise.   We hope it may contribute towards more sustainable landscapes and, as a result, improve to human well-being.