Agroecosystem Service Capacity Index – A methodological approach
Sustainable food systems (FS) require providing food and other goods and services to humans satisfying
food security, right to food, income, social justice and resilience, without degrading human health and hiving high environmental performance. The environmental performance of FS can be evaluated using Life Cycle Assessment. However, research on the impact that FS activities, e.g. crop production have on the capacity of farm-based agroecosystems to provide goods and services to humans is still incipient. Our underlying aim was to understand how FS impact on the provision of agroecosystem services and how this relates to the environmental performance of FS, as a basis for supporting decision-making on how to make FS more sustainable. We propose the Agroecosystem Service Capacity (ASC) as a method for assessing farm based agroecosystem services, it builds on the Ecosystem Service Matrix by Burkhard et al. (2009) and assesses land cover classes against 20 agroecosystem services. The method was applied to eighteen farm-based agroecosystems in Bolivia and Kenya. Here we present two examples for exploring its potentials and limitations. The ASC operates on the basis of land cover class units and permits the calculation of an aggregate ASC-index for farm-based agroecosystems forming part of a specific FS.