Towards ecosystem accounting: a comprehensive approach to modelling multiple hydrological ecosystem services
Hydrology and Earth System Sciences Discussions
Ecosystem accounting is an emerging field that aims to provide a consistent approach to analysing environment-economy interactions. In spite of the progress made in mapping and quantifying hydrological ecosystem services, several key issues must be addressed if ecohydrological modelling approaches are to be aligned with ecosystem accounting. They include modelling hydrological ecosystem services with adequate spatiotemporal detail and accuracy at aggregated scales to support ecosystem
... ecosystem accounting, distinguishing between service capacity and service flow, and linking ecohydrological processes to the supply of dependent hydrological ecosystem services. We present a spatially explicit approach, which is consistent with ecosystem accounting, for mapping and quantifying service capacity and service flow of multiple hydrological ecosystem services. A grid-based setup of a modified Soil Water and Assessment Tool (SWAT), SWAT Landscape, is first used to simulate the watershed ecohydrology. Model outputs are then post-processed to map and quantify hydrological ecosystem services and to set up biophysical ecosystem accounts. Trend analysis statistical tests are conducted on service capacity accounts to track changes in the potential to provide service flows. Ecohydrological modelling to support ecosystem accounting requires appropriate decisions regarding model process inclusion, physical and mathematical representation, spatial heterogeneity, temporal resolution, and model accuracy. We demonstrate this approach in the Upper Ouémé watershed in Benin. Our analyses show that integrating hydrological ecosystem services in an ecosystem accounting framework provides relevant information on ecosystems and hydrological ecosystem services at appropriate scales suitable for decision-making. Our analyses further identify priority areas important for maintaining hydrological ecosystem services as well as trends in hydrological ecosystem services supply over time.