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A Continental-Scale Validation of Ecosystem Service Models

Willcock, Simon ; Hooftman, Danny A.P. ; Balbi, Stefano ; Blanchard, Ryan ; Dawson, Terence P. ; O’Farrell, Patrick J. ; Hickler, Thomas LU ; Hudson, Malcolm D. ; Lindeskog, Mats LU and Martinez-Lopez, Javier , et al. (2019) In Ecosystems 22(8). p.1902-1917
Abstract

Faced with environmental degradation, governments worldwide are developing policies to safeguard ecosystem services (ES). Many ES models exist to support these policies, but they are generally poorly validated, especially at large scales, which undermines their credibility. To address this gap, we describe a study of multiple models of five ES, which we validate at an unprecedented scale against 1675 data points across sub-Saharan Africa. We find that potential ES (biophysical supply of carbon and water) are reasonably well predicted by the existing models. These potential ES models can also be used as inputs to new models for realised ES (use of charcoal, firewood, grazing resources and water), by adding information on human population... (More)

Faced with environmental degradation, governments worldwide are developing policies to safeguard ecosystem services (ES). Many ES models exist to support these policies, but they are generally poorly validated, especially at large scales, which undermines their credibility. To address this gap, we describe a study of multiple models of five ES, which we validate at an unprecedented scale against 1675 data points across sub-Saharan Africa. We find that potential ES (biophysical supply of carbon and water) are reasonably well predicted by the existing models. These potential ES models can also be used as inputs to new models for realised ES (use of charcoal, firewood, grazing resources and water), by adding information on human population density. We find that increasing model complexity can improve estimates of both potential and realised ES, suggesting that developing more detailed models of ES will be beneficial. Furthermore, in 85% of cases, human population density alone was as good or a better predictor of realised ES than ES models, suggesting that it is demand, rather than supply that is predominantly determining current patterns of ES use. Our study demonstrates the feasibility of ES model validation, even in data-deficient locations such as sub-Saharan Africa. Our work also shows the clear need for more work on the demand side of ES models, and the importance of model validation in providing a stronger base to support policies which seek to achieve sustainable development in support of human well-being.

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published
subject
keywords
Africa, beneficiary, carbon, charcoal, complexity, firewood, grazing, natural capital, water
in
Ecosystems
volume
22
issue
8
pages
1902 - 1917
publisher
Springer
external identifiers
  • scopus:85064602467
ISSN
1432-9840
DOI
10.1007/s10021-019-00380-y
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
77f45d6c-4734-48d1-89ba-8e475b3a959b
date added to LUP
2019-05-07 14:40:49
date last changed
2020-01-14 12:52:11
@article{77f45d6c-4734-48d1-89ba-8e475b3a959b,
  abstract     = {<p>Faced with environmental degradation, governments worldwide are developing policies to safeguard ecosystem services (ES). Many ES models exist to support these policies, but they are generally poorly validated, especially at large scales, which undermines their credibility. To address this gap, we describe a study of multiple models of five ES, which we validate at an unprecedented scale against 1675 data points across sub-Saharan Africa. We find that potential ES (biophysical supply of carbon and water) are reasonably well predicted by the existing models. These potential ES models can also be used as inputs to new models for realised ES (use of charcoal, firewood, grazing resources and water), by adding information on human population density. We find that increasing model complexity can improve estimates of both potential and realised ES, suggesting that developing more detailed models of ES will be beneficial. Furthermore, in 85% of cases, human population density alone was as good or a better predictor of realised ES than ES models, suggesting that it is demand, rather than supply that is predominantly determining current patterns of ES use. Our study demonstrates the feasibility of ES model validation, even in data-deficient locations such as sub-Saharan Africa. Our work also shows the clear need for more work on the demand side of ES models, and the importance of model validation in providing a stronger base to support policies which seek to achieve sustainable development in support of human well-being.</p>},
  author       = {Willcock, Simon and Hooftman, Danny A.P. and Balbi, Stefano and Blanchard, Ryan and Dawson, Terence P. and O’Farrell, Patrick J. and Hickler, Thomas and Hudson, Malcolm D. and Lindeskog, Mats and Martinez-Lopez, Javier and Mulligan, Mark and Reyers, Belinda and Shackleton, Charlie and Sitas, Nadia and Villa, Ferdinando and Watts, Sophie M. and Eigenbrod, Felix and Bullock, James M.},
  issn         = {1432-9840},
  language     = {eng},
  month        = {04},
  number       = {8},
  pages        = {1902--1917},
  publisher    = {Springer},
  series       = {Ecosystems},
  title        = {A Continental-Scale Validation of Ecosystem Service Models},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10021-019-00380-y},
  doi          = {10.1007/s10021-019-00380-y},
  volume       = {22},
  year         = {2019},
}