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Integrating Ecosystem Services Into Water Resource Management: An Indicator-Based Approach

Kashif Shaad, Nicholas J. Souter, Derek Vollmer, Helen M. Regan & Maíra Ometto Bezerra

Environmental Management

January 01, 2022

Natural ecosystems are fundamental to local water cycles and the water ecosystem services that humans enjoy, such as water provision, outdoor recreation, and flood protection. However, integrating ecosystem services into water resources management requires that they be acknowledged, quantified, and communicated to decision-makers. We present an indicator framework that incorporates the supply of, and demand for, water ecosystem services. This provides an initial diagnostic for water resource managers and a mechanism for evaluating tradeoffs through future scenarios. Building on a risk assessment framework, we present a three-tiered indicator for measuring where demand exceeds the supply of services, addressing the scope (spatial extent), frequency, and amplitude for which objectives (service delivery) are not met. The Ecosystem Service Indicator is measured on a 0–100 scale, which encompasses none to total service delivery. We demonstrate the framework and its applicability to a variety of services and data sources (e.g., monitoring stations, statistical yearbooks, modeled datasets) from case studies in China and Southeast Asia. We evaluate the sensitivity of the indicator scores to varying levels data and three methods of calculation using a simulated test dataset. Our indicator framework is conceptually simple, robust, and flexible enough to offer a starting point for decision-makers and to accommodate the evolution and expansion of tools, models and data sources used to measure and evaluate the value of water ecosystem services.

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Shaad, K., Souter, N.J., Vollmer, D. et al. Integrating Ecosystem Services Into Water Resource Management: An Indicator-Based Approach. Environmental Management (2022).