Modelling Ecosystem Services

Authored by: Felix Kienast , Julian Helfenstein

Routledge Handbook of Ecosystem Services

Print publication date:  January  2016
Online publication date:  January  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138025080
eBook ISBN: 9781315775302
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315775302-14

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Abstract

Despite widespread interest in ecosystem services, land managers are frequently left to their own judgment when it comes to selecting ecosystem models for quantifying and mapping the services of a given area. Hence there is a pressing need for a practical framework to guide people’s choices. Such a framework should help managers select a credible model suitable for the given knowledge level, geography, and scale. These models should then be able to assess: the capacity of a site to deliver certain services; the demand for ecosystem services; and the actual flow (supply). As these three pillars of ecosystem service provision are rarely found in one and the same model, suites of models that complement each other in terms of drivers, data, scale and knowledge are usually needed. The delicate interplay of capacity, demand, and flow has been repeatedly described by Haines-Young et al. (2012), Burkhard et al. (2012), and others. As summarized in Kienast et al. (2009), their cascade model recognizes natural factors, policy, and economy as significant drivers for the capacity of a site to deliver ecosystem services. “These stocks manifest themselves in the form of landscape structures (e.g. mountains, woodlands, cities) and ecosystem processes and functions (e.g. net primary productivity). ‘Goods and services’ on the other hand represent the flows of benefits to society from these stocks. These flows (e.g. timber or food production) depend upon both the capacity of the landscape to supply these services and the demand from society for the benefits they provide” (Kienast et al., 2009, p. 1100).

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