Ecosystem Services at the Landscape Scale: the Need for Integrative Approaches
During the symposium “Ecosystem Services at the Landscape Scale” from the EU-IALE conference 2009, several challenges for future research on approaches to use the concept of ecosystem services at the landscape scale were identified, focussing on the need for integration. Three main research directions were discussed, (i) the definition of the potentials and limitations of the ecosystem service approach for landscape analysis, (ii) the identification of suitable methods and tools to apply the ecosystem service approach at the landscape scale and (iii) the demand of incorporating ecosystem and landscape services in decision making and management. This paper briefly addresses and discusses some of these topics and puts them into a broader perspective. From this viewpoint it becomes obvious that many high-quality sectoral studies are carried out, e.g. concentrating on specific services or specific linkages within the “ecosystem service cascade” which describes the relation between biophysical characteristics of the landscape, their functions, services, benefits and values for society. In order to provide useful information for decision makers, ecosystem services studies should be supplemented by investigations of the whole systems of interactions between ecological processes and societal valuations.