Scale and context dependence of ecosystem service providing units

Author(s): Andersson, E., T. McPhearson, P. Kremer, E. Gomez-Baggethun, D. Haase, M. Tuvendal, D. Wurster
In: Ecosystem Services 12: 157–164
Year: 2015
Type: Journal / article
Theme affiliation: Landscapes, Urban
Link to centre authors: Andersson, Erik
Full reference: Andersson, E., T. McPhearson, P. Kremer, E. Gomez-Baggethun, D. Haase, M. Tuvendal, D. Wurster. 2015. Scale and context dependence of ecosystem service providing units. Ecosystem Services 12: 157–164.

Summary

Ecosystem services (ES) have been broadly adopted as a conceptual framing for addressing human nature interactions and to illustrate the ways in which humans depend on ecosystems for sustained life and well-being. Additionally, ES are being increasingly included in urban planning and management as a way to create multi-functional landscapes able to meet the needs of expanding urban populations. However, while ES are generated and utilized within landscapes we still have limited understanding of the relationship between ES and spatial structure and dynamics.

Here, we offer an expanded conceptualization of these relationships through the concept of service providing units (SPUs) as a way to plan and manage the structures and preconditions that are needed for, and in different ways influence, provisioning of ES. The SPU approach has two parts: the first deals with internal dimensions of the SPUs themselves, i.e. spatial and temporal scale and organizational level, and the second outlines how context and presence of external structures (e.g. built infrastructure or larger ecosystems) affect the performance of SPUs. In doing so, SPUs enable a more nuanced and comprehensive approach to managing and designing multi-functional landscapes and achieving multiple ES goals.

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