by RS de Groot, R Alkemade, L Braat, L Hein, L Willemen
Ecological complexity 7(3):260-2722010
Despite landscape functions and ecosystem services being deemed key players in policy making, there is a lack of integration regarding the concept of ecosystem services into everyday landscape planning, management, and decision-making. The main challenge has been determining the most advantageous management and allocation of the diverse land use options. This paper assesses the trade-offs in land cover and land use change to examine the challenges involved in applying ecosystem service assessment and valuation to environmental management. The authors accounted for spatial analysis and issues of scale, deduced the total economic value of different management states, and utilized dynamic modelling tools in this study. A comprehensive framework for integrated assessment which linked ecosystem and landscape character to services, values, trade-off instruments, planning tools, and financing mechanisms was employed. To understand and quantify the provision of ecosystems services, the authors applied state indicators which described what ecosystem component or process was providing the service and how much was provided, along with performance indicators which specified the quantity of the service that could potentially be used in a sustainable way. When valuing ecosystem services, the ecological, socio-cultural, and economic value domains allowed for an accurate representation of the Total Economic Value. After determining the relationship between landscape ecosystem properties and services, the consequences of land cover, land use change, and ecosystem management decisions on ecosystem services were assessed. This study concludes that nature conservation and management strategies do not necessarily pose a trade-off between the environment and development. Rather, investments in restoration, conservation, and sustainable ecosystem use can produce substantial social, ecological, and economic benefits. The ongoing projects and initiatives vetted for this research provide reassurance that the concept of ecosystem services will eventually become established in environmental planning and management at all levels of decision-making.