Enhancing practicality of ecosystem service assessments by considering scale effects

Authors and Affiliations: 

Adrienne Grêt-Regamey, Planning of Landscape and Urban Systems (PLUS), ETH Zürich


The essential ingredients of long-term sustainable development include accurate knowledge about available resources and wise policies to use them. This knowledge includes on one side a comprehensive understanding of the functioning of ecosystems that take place over a range of spatial and temporal scales. On the other side, ecosystem services are supplied to a range of institutional scales, varying from the individual to the global comprising different stakeholders with sometimes conflicting interests. These scale effects not only have a direct impact on the value different stakeholders attach to ecosystem services, depending upon their cultural background, but require different management efforts to secure the long-term provision of the ecosystem services.  

In this presentation, we first give several examples illustrating the effects of space, time and institutional scales on ecosystem services assessments. We then show innovative modeling approaches to address the spatial context for ecosystem services assessment embedding ecosystem services modeling approaches into virtual environments. Results underscore the importance of multi-scale environmental decision-making in a policy context, so as to reflect both local conditions and broader-scale priorities. We conclude by formulating key aspects enhancing applicability of ecosystem services assessments in different spatial contexts.