A conceptual framework for the governance of multiple ecosystem services in agricultural landscapes


Context. While the concept of ecosystem services (ES) is well established in the scientific and policy arenas, its operationalization faces many challenges. Indeed, ES supply, demand and flow are related to ecological and social processes at multiple space and time scales, leading to complex interactions in the provision of multiple ES. Objectives. To develop a conceptual framework (CF) to facilitate the study and governance of multiple ES in agricultural social-ecological landscapes. Method. We examined the ecological and social literatures to identify how approaches at the landscape level contribute to a better understanding of ES supply, demand and flow in agricultural systems. After detailing our CF, we use a case study to illustrate how methods from different disciplines can be combined to operationalize our CF. Results. The literature suggests that the landscape level is likely to be the level of organization that will make it possible to (i) integrate different components of ES co-production, i.e. ecological processes, agricultural practices and social structures, (ii) understand interactions between stakeholders, including ES coproducers and beneficiaries, (iii) explicit ES trade-offs, i.e. social choices between ES. Conclusion. The production of multiple ES at the landscape level involves different types of interdependencies among ES co-producers and beneficiaries. These need to be addressed in concerted and integrated ways to achieve sustainable and equitable governance of agricultural landscapes.

In Landscape Ecology, 34(7), pp. 1653–1673