Environmental impact assessment and monetary ecosystem service valuation of an ecosystem under different future environmental change and management scenarios : a case study of a Scots pine forestEnvironmental impact assessment and monetary ecosystem service valuation of an ecosystem under different future environmental change and management scenarios : a case study of a Scots pine forest
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Plant and Vegetation Ecology (PLECO)
Journal of environmental management. - London
173(2016), p. 79-94
University of Antwerp
For a sustainable future, we must sustainably manage not only the human/industrial system but also ecosystems. To achieve the latter goal, we need to predict the responses of ecosystems and their provided services to management practices under changing environmental conditions via ecosystem models and use tools to compare the estimated provided services between the different scenarios. However, scientific articles have covered a limited amount of estimated ecosystem services and have used tools to aggregate services that contain a significant amount of subjective aspects and that represent the final result in a non-tangible unit such as points. To resolve these matters, this study quantifies the environmental impact (on human health, natural systems and natural resources) in physical units and uses an ecosystem service valuation based on monetary values (including ecosystem disservices with associated negative monetary values). More specifically, the paper also focuses on the assessment of ecosystem services related to pollutant removal/generation flows, accounting for the inflow of eutrophying nitrogen (N) when assessing the effect of N leached to groundwater. Regarding water use/provisioning, evapotranspiration is alternatively considered a disservice because it implies a loss of (potential) groundwater. These approaches and improvements, relevant to all ecosystems, are demonstrated using a Scots pine stand from 2010 to 2089 for a combination of three environmental change and three management scenarios. The environmental change scenarios considered interannual climate variability trends and included alterations in temperature, precipitation, nitrogen deposition, wind speed, Particulate matter (PM) concentration and CO2 concentration. The addressed flows/ecosystem services, including disservices, are as follows: particulate matter removal, freshwater loss, CO2 sequestration, wood production, NOx emissions, NH3 uptake and nitrogen pollution/removal. The monetary ecosystem service valuation yields a total average estimate of 3611242 euro ha−1 yr−1. PM2.5 (<2.5 μm) removal is the key service, with a projected value of 6221172 euro ha−1 yr−1. Concerning environmental impact assessment, with net CO2 uptake being the most relevant contributing flow, a loss prevention of 0.0140.029 healthy life years ha−1 yr−1 is calculated for the respective flows. Both assessment methods favor the use of the least intensive management scenario due to its resulting higher CO2 sequestration and PM removal, which are the most important services of the considered ones.