Mapping Ecosystem Services

Authored by: Joachim Maes , Neville D. Crossman , Benjamin Burkhard

Routledge Handbook of Ecosystem Services

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

Print ISBN: 9781138025080
eBook ISBN: 9781315775302
Adobe ISBN:


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The continued and sustainable provision of ecosystem services, and the protection of natural capital, is increasingly recognized by decision-makers as both a strategy to cope with a changing environment and as a cost-effective alternative to building infrastructure. Exemplary cases involve the deployment of green infrastructure in and around cities, which is linked to public health through the provision of increased air quality, regulation of the micro-climate through the cooling effects of vegetation, and recreation; the sustainable management of farmland, ensuring that pollination and biological control of pests maintain or enhance the production crops; the purification of wastewaters in constructed wetlands which provide additional services such as urban storm water management and maintenance of bird habitats; the restoration of floodplains to protect downstream communities; or the financial compensation of land owners for conserving or managing their land to provide sustained levels of ecosystem services (i.e. payment for ecosystem services). Many of these cases, if not all, share a common requirement for high-quality and consistent information on the condition of ecosystems and the services provided at different scales. Mapping ecosystems and their services is thus increasingly seen as a response to this requirement. This trend is evidenced by a rapidly expanding scientific literature and the expanding availability of different indicators, mapping tools, models, and decision support systems (Martínez-Harms and Balvanera, 2012; Egoh et al., 2012; Crossman et al., 2013b; Pagella and Sinclair, 2014).

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