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Guidance for assessing interregional ecoystem service flows

May 30, 2019

Ecosystem services (ES) assessments commonly focus on a specific biophysical region or nation and take its geographic borders as the system boundary. Most geographical regions are, however, not closed systems but are open and telecoupled with other regions through ES imports and exports, which are mediated by fluxes of matter, energy and information. Interregional ES flows are often linked to national economies and may affect issues of national security and global equity. To date, however, methodologies for interregional ES flow assessments have been published in dispersed literature. This paper provides a three-step guidance for the assessment of four different types of interregional ES flows (traded goods, passive biophysical flows, species migration and dispersal and information flows), in order to complement national ecosystem assessments. The three steps are to (i) define the goal and scope of interregional ES flow assessments, (ii) quantify the interregional ES flows using a tiered approach and (iii) interpret results in terms of uncertainties, consequences and governance options. We compile different indicators for assessing interregional ES flows and evaluate their suitability for national ES assessments. Finally, in order to value the various outcomes of telecouplings, including their implications for human well-being, we relate the interregional ES flow indicators to the Sustainable Development Goals. We discuss how regional studies can assess a country‘s dependence and impact on "overseas" ES. This guidance towards systematic assessment of interregional ES flows provides a first step to measure and quantify externalised environmental costs and can contribute to the development of indicators to address interregional imbalances in trade, foreign policy and beyond.

Publication Year 2019
Title Guidance for assessing interregional ecoystem service flows
DOI 10.1016/j.ecolind.2019.04.046
Authors Thomas Koellner, Aletta Bonn, Sebastian Arnhold, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Dor Friedman, Carlos Guerra, Thomas Kastner, Meidad Kissinger, Janina Kleeman, Christian Kuhlicke, Jianguo Liu, Laura Lopez-Hoffman, Alexandra Marques, Berta Martin-Lopez, Catharina J. E. Schulp, Sarah Wolff, Matthias Schröter
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Ecological Indicators
Index ID 70203670
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Geosciences and Environmental Change Science Center