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Nature’s contributions to people (NCP), including ecosystem services, support human wellbeing in multiple ways. Increasing evidence shows that NCP are co-produced by different combinations of natural and anthropogenic inputs rather than being provided by nature alone. These anthropogenic inputs are also known as capital assets, which include, human, social, physical, and financial capital. NCP and the anthropogenic inputs contributing to their co-production are governed across multiple levels and various ways (Fig. 1).

Nature’s contributions to people (NCP) are co-produced by an interplay of natural and anthropogenic capitals and governed by various modes of governance.

The main goal of ESuDis is to understand the different pathways by which anthropogenic and natural capital are combined to sustainably co-produce NCP and contribute to the equitable distribution of these.

We will examine how increasing land use intensity and the substitution of natural capital by human, social, physical, and financial capital affect

  • (i) the supply of multiple NCP (scientific objective 1),
  • (ii) the distribution of these NCP across different stakeholders and multiple spatial scales in terms of use and demand (scientific objective 2); and
  • (iii) how supply and distribution relate to the governance of NCP (scientific objective 3).

ESuDis will employ a wide array of social science research methods. Besides literature reviews, we will use land-use data previously collected in the Biodiversity Exploratories and conduct interviews and surveys with different stakeholders in the three case study sites. These stakeholders will include forest managers, conservation managers, land-managers, representatives from non-governmental organisations, local people, and tourists.

Besides, we will use a policy document analysis to understand how formal governance across multiple levels affects the use of anthropogenic capitals in the co-production of NCP within the Biodiversity Exploratories case study sites.

The ESuDis Team in the World Heritage Site Grumsin in 2020

The ESuDis project led to various results.

  • Our first systematic review of scientific literature on NCP and ecosystem services co-production showed that only few publications on the interplay of anthropogenic and natural capitals exist. Besides, the review revealed that scientific literature predominantly focusses on material NCP and combinations of physical and human capital.
  • Our second systematic review focussed on NCP and ecosystem services governance literature and showed that research mainly studies combinations of different modes of governance that affect the co-production of NCP.
  • Based on previously collected land-use data we unravelled that one of the leverage points in reconciling biodiversity with material NCP (for example, forage) are environmental protection guidelines such as the Natura 2000 network. We found that mowing and fertilising intensity were the main drivers of losses in plant diversity in grasslands, while moderate grazing intensity levels alleviated the apparent trade-off between forage production and plant diversity. More research should investigate the effect of different grazers and other management practices to address policy relevant issues regarding the conservation of biodiversity and important ecosystems functions in the Biodiversity Exploratories.
  • An analysis of policy documents across governance levels showed that forest related policies predominantly address material and regulating NCP. Formal governance of these NCP and the anthropogenic capitals co-producing them is mainly top-down (hierarchical governance) and based on scientific evidence or takes technical specifications into consideration.
  • Based on our interviews we found different profiles of nature visitors in the Exploratories. For example, Hainich-Dün and Schorfheide-Chorin are visited by local people. The Swabian Alb is visited by non-locals with a relatively high income and sustainable consumption patterns. Overall, nature visitors especially valued the therapeutic value of nature in terms of benefit for their mental and physical well-being. However, they also expressed their care and stewardship for nature, the intrinsic value of nature and the social responsibility in preserving nature for future generations.

Doc
Isaac R., Hofmann J., Koegst J., Schleyer C., Martín-López B. (2024): Governing anthropogenic assets for nature’s contributions to people in forests: A policy document analysis. Environmental Science and Policy 152, 103657. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2023.103657
More information:  doi.org
Doc
Kachler J., Benra F., Bollinger R., Isaac R., Bonn A., Felipe-Lucia M. R. (2023): Can we have it all? The role of grassland conservation in supporting forage production and plant diversity. Landscape Ecology 38, 4451–4465. doi: /10.1007/s10980-023-01729-4
More information:  doi.org
Doc
Kachler J., Isaac R., Martín-López B., Bonn A., Felipe-Lucia M. R. (2023): Co-production of nature's contributions to people: What evidence is out there? People and Nature 5 (4), 1119-1134. doi: 10.1002/pan3.10493
More information:  doi.org
Doc
Governance von koproduzierten Ökosystemleistungen: der Weg nach vorn
Isaac R., Albrecht E., Felipe-Lucia M. R., Piquer-Rodríguez M., Winkler K. J., Martín-López B. (2023): Governing the co-production of nature’s contributions to people: the road ahead. Advances in Ecological Research 69, 1-15. doi: 10.1016/bs.aecr.2023.10.001
More information:  doi.org
Doc
Mittels Governance die Komplexität der Koproduktion von Beiträgen der Natur für Menschen steuern
Isaac R., Kachler J., Winkler K. J., Albrecht E., Felipe-Lucia M., Martín-López B. (2022): Governance to manage the complexity of nature's contributions to people co-production. Advances in Ecological Research 66, 293-321. doi: 10.1016/bs.aecr.2022.04.009
More information:  doi.org

Conclusion

ESuDis has uncovered how anthropogenic capitals are used to co-produce material, regulating, and non-material NCP in the three Biodiversity Exploratories sites. For one, ESuDis has shown that the Biodiversity Exploratories differ regarding who visits natural areas and people’s motivations to do so (human capital). Secondly, ESuDis highlighted the interlinkages between the protection status of grasslands (social capital), the land-management (human and physical capital), and biodiversity. Moreover, ESuDis has shown how policies affect the use of specific anthropogenic capitals in the co-production of forest NCP. Besides, ongoing analysis will highlight how stakeholders are connected through the use of specific capitals whilst co-producing forest NCP.

Project in other funding periods

Illustration: The photo shows under dark clouds a sunlit herd of white-brown cattle on a meadow behind an electric fence. In the background a landscape with meadows, fields and forests can be seen.
ESuDis (Contributing project)
#Transfer & Society  #2020 – 2023  #Grassland […]

Scientific assistants

Dr. Maria Felipe-Lucia
Project manager
Dr. Maria Felipe-Lucia
Pyrenean Institute of Ecology (IPE-CSIC)
Prof. Dr. Berta Martín López
Project manager
Prof. Dr. Berta Martín López
Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Roman Isaac
Employee
Roman Isaac
Leuphana Universität Lüneburg
Jana Kachler
Jana Kachler
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