The Concept of Ecosystem Services Regarding Landscape Research: A Review
The awareness that natural and semi-natural ecosystems provide benefits to human society, which are of great economic, ecological and socio-cultural value, can be dated back to the mid-1960s and early 1970s. More recently, there has been an almost exponential growth in publications on the benefits of natural ecosystems to human society. However, despite the enhancing interest in ecosystem service research, still many open questions remain to fully integrate the ecosystem service concept in landscape research and decision making. The paper aims at providing the state-of-the-art of ecosystem service assessment regarding landscape research and to present a coherent knowledge base for further discussions. First the paper gives an overview of the different ways defining and classifying ecosystem services. Five selected typologies, very common in the literature are discussed in detail. The second main part of this review focuses on quantifying and mapping ecosystem services as well as on the different valuation approaches. As there are still a lot of challenges that have to be faced regarding quantifying, visualising as well as valuing ecosystem services the paper emphasizes the importance of further research, initiatives and projects to improve the implementation of the ecosystem service concept in environmental planning and management at all levels of decision making. To meet all these challenges research effort needs to be conducted side by side to understand underlying relationships and to improve ecological as well as socio-economic understanding.