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Hydrology and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Volume 19, issue 10
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 4377–4396, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-19-4377-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.
Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 19, 4377–4396, 2015
https://doi.org/10.5194/hess-19-4377-2015
© Author(s) 2015. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Research article 30 Oct 2015

Research article | 30 Oct 2015

Towards ecosystem accounting: a comprehensive approach to modelling multiple hydrological ecosystem services

C. Duku1, H. Rathjens2, S. J. Zwart3, and L. Hein1 C. Duku et al.
  • 1Environmental Systems Analysis Group, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 47, 6700AA, Wageningen, the Netherlands
  • 2Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Purdue University, 550 Stadium Mall Drive, West Lafayette, IN 47907-2093, USA
  • 3Africa Rice Center, 2031 PB, Cotonou, Benin

Abstract. Ecosystem accounting is an emerging field that aims to provide a consistent approach to analysing environment–economy interactions. One of the specific features of ecosystem accounting is the distinction between the capacity and the flow of ecosystem services. Ecohydrological modelling to support ecosystem accounting requires considering among others physical and mathematical representation of ecohydrological processes, spatial heterogeneity of the ecosystem, temporal resolution, and required model accuracy. This study examines how a spatially explicit ecohydrological model can be used to analyse multiple hydrological ecosystem services in line with the ecosystem accounting framework. We use the Upper Ouémé watershed in Benin as a test case to demonstrate our approach. The Soil Water and Assessment Tool (SWAT), which has been configured with a grid-based landscape discretization and further enhanced to simulate water flow across the discretized landscape units, is used to simulate the ecohydrology of the Upper Ouémé watershed. Indicators consistent with the ecosystem accounting framework are used to map and quantify the capacities and the flows of multiple hydrological ecosystem services based on the model outputs. Biophysical ecosystem accounts are subsequently set up based on the spatial estimates of hydrological ecosystem services. In addition, we conduct trend analysis statistical tests on biophysical ecosystem accounts to identify trends in changes in the capacity of the watershed ecosystems to provide service flows. We show that the integration of hydrological ecosystem services into an ecosystem accounting framework provides relevant information on ecosystems and hydrological ecosystem services at appropriate scales suitable for decision-making.

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Provision of hydrological ecosystem services underlies water and food security and the protection of human lives and properties. We show that the integration of these services into an ecosystem accounting framework provides relevant information on ecosystems and hydrological ecosystem services at appropriate scales suitable for decision-making.
Provision of hydrological ecosystem services underlies water and food security and the...
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