Which parts of the landscape are most important for the provision of ecosystem services?
Ecosystem services are ‘benefits provided by ecosystems that contribute to making human life both possible and worth living’ (UK National Ecosystem assessment).
The map layers assign a relative value to the landscape in terms of the provision of the following ecosystem services:
Soil erosion by water mitigation.
Mitigation of soil/sediment pollution of watercourses.
Mitigation of soil/sediment pollution of drinking water.
Mitigation of soil/sediment pollution of aquaculture.
Mitigation of soil/sediment pollution of bathing water.
Mitigation of air pollution (particulate matter).
Pollination of crops.
Higher the service value, the greater the likelihood and/or magnitude of service provision from that location. Often the benefits of a service are realised remote from the area of provision. For example, it is downstream areas at risk of flooding that benefit from the mitigation service of upstream catchment or floodplain areas.
The value of many ecosystem services derives from the ‘demand’ for the service. Hence, the highest flood mitigation values are generally found in catchments with the highest downstream flood risk. Where there is no downstream flood risk there is no value for the provision of mitigating services.
Provision of a mitigating service does not imply that the service might not be improved by changes to landcover or land management to that area.
Please only consider service values as indicative as the maps summarise complex, dynamic mechanisms of service provision and flow.
Many factors affecting the provision and flow of service are not accounted for, including land management techniques, watercourse characteristics and sub-surface drainage flows.