Quantifying interregional flows of multiple ecosystem services – A case study for Germany

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Despite a growing number of national-scale ecosystem service (ES) assessments, few studies consider the impacts of ES use and consumption beyond national or regional boundaries. Interregional ES flows – ecosystem services “imported” from and “exported” to other countries – are rarely analyzed and their importance for global sustainability is little known. Here, we provide a first multi-ES quantification of a nation's use of ES from abroad. We focus on ES flows that benefit the population in Germany but are supplied outside German territory. We employ a conceptual framework recently developed to systematically quantify interregional ES flows. We address four types of interregional ES flows with: (i) biophysical flows of traded goods: cocoa import for consumption; (ii) flows mediated by migratory species: migration of birds providing pest control; (iii) passive biophysical flows: flood control along transboundary watersheds; and (iv) information flows: China's giant panda loan to the Berlin Zoo. We determined that: (i) Ivory Coast and Ghana alone supply around 53% of Germany's cocoa while major negative consequences for biodiversity occurred in Cameroon and Ecuador; (ii) Africa´s humid and sub-humid climate zones are important habitats for the majority of migratory bird species that provide natural pest control services in agricultural areas in Germany; (iii) Upstream watersheds outside the country add an additional 64% flood regulation services nationally, while Germany exports 40% of flood regulation services in neighboring, downstream countries; (iv) Information flows transported by the pandas were mainly related to political aspects and - contrary to our expectations - considerably less on biological and natural aspects. We discuss the implications of these results for international resource management policy and governance.
Janina Kleemann, Matthias Schroter, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Christian Kuhlicke, Thomas Kastner, Dor Fridman, Catharina J.E. Schulp, Sarah Wolff, Javier Martinez-Lopez, Thomas Koellner, Sebastian Arnhold, Berta Martin-Lopez, Alexandra Marques, Laura Lopez-Hoff
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