Department of Civil Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento (Italy)
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- future research
SPATIAL ASSESSMENT OF MULTIPLE ECOSYSTEM SERVICES IN AN ALPINE REGION
The research aimed to consider a wide set of Ecosystem services (ESs) and information able to reflect the actual variability of the services distribution across an Alpine region, Trentino. It proposed a scientifically sound methodology to deal with the main issues of the ESs spatial assessment, as required by the European Biodiversity Strategy for 2020: the measurement of the ESs provision, the recognition of areas where ESs appear together repeatedly and the analysis of the interactions that may exist among them.
In particular, the research has four specific objectives. The first objective focuses on the selection and the representation over specific spatial units of the real supply of multiple ESs. Operatively, 25 ESs were identified and 57 assessment indicators were mapped (1 to 5 indicators for each service). In order to consider the heterogeneity of the ESs supply across the region, indicators were mapped
over 20 different spatial units, including: land cover classes, cadastral parcels, fishing zones and catchments.
The second objective is to develop and test a statistical method in order to identify key indicators that are spatially-explicit and able to measure the biophysical, socio-cultural and economic values of ESs (both in terms of stock and flow). The analysis showed that there is a minimum number of key indicators for each ES.
The third objective is to develop and test a statistical method in order to define bundles of ESs, as sets of spatially correlated services. Hierarchical clustering was applied to identify 11 ESs clusters, demonstrating that in Trentino multiple ESs can be grouped in a few number of bundles with a complex shape. In particular, areas with poor ESs supply are grouped in one single bundle and the largest bundle follows the spatial distribution of a single land cover class: i.e. forest.
The fourth objective is to develop a method to study interactions among ESs. The analysis showed that the local land use management has not compromised the capacity of ecosystems to provide regulating services while supplying the provisioning ones. Moreover, land use management was found as the external factor that causes the greatest variability of the ESs distribution across the region. Within forest areas, forest management activities that involve loss of vegetation were found as the main drivers of ESs change.
Methods provided by this research may reveal efficiently applicable in other geographical areas where ESs are heterogeneously supplied.