Framework for systematic indicator selection to assess effects of land management on ecosystem services

13-02-2012 | Publication

Land management is an important factor that affects ecosystem services provision. However, interactions between land management, ecological processes and ecosystem service provision are still not fully understood. Indicators can help to better understand these interactions and provide information for policy-makers to prioritise land management interventions.

In this paper, we develop a framework for the systematic selection of indicators, to assess the link between land management and ecosystem services provision in a spatially explicit manner. Our framework distinguishes between ecosystem properties, ecosystem functions, and ecosystem services. We tested the framework in a case study in The Netherlands. For the case study, we identified 12 property indicators, 9 function indicators and 9 service indicators. The indicators were used to examine the effect of land management on food provision, air quality regulation and recreation opportunities. Land management was found to not only affect ecosystem properties, but also ecosystem functions and services directly. Several criteria were used to evaluate the usefulness of the selected indicators, including scalability, sensitivity to land management change, spatial explicitness, and portability. The results show that the proposed framework can be used to determine quantitative links between indicators, so that land management effects on ecosystem services provision can be modelled in a spatially explicit manner.

Figure: scheme of the framework for assessing links between landmanagement, ecosystem services, provision, and human well-being

Figure: Framework for assessing links between land management, ecosystem services provision, and human well-being. The white boxes indicate the scope of our study. Solid arrows indicate effects; dashed arrows indicate feedbacks.