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