Improving the identification of mismatches in ecosystem services assessments
Assessments and sustainable management of ecosystem services (ES) require an understanding of both ES supply and demand qualities, quantities, spatial scales and dynamics. Mismatches, i.e., differences in quality or quantity between the supply and demand of ES, can occur in many different forms. Being able to identify these mismatches and their nature is of prime importance for informing governance and management decisions. This manuscript explores which mismatches can be detected by current ES supply and demand assessments and which mismatches currently remain unidentified.
An analytic framework was developed comprised of five interlinked components of ES supply and demand linking nature and society (i.e., potential supply, managed supply, match, demand, and interests). This framework was used to examine 11 recent papers, which applied ES assessments to both ES supply and demand, to determine which mismatches were or could be identified and which mismatches remained unidentified.
The selected papers typically used multiple methods in their assessments to capture supply and demand components. The found diversity in methods and the inclusion of temporal and spatial dimensions, and the existence of multiple stakeholder groups allowed for the assessments to identify several mismatches, but also lead to differences in the discriminative capacity of the assessments between the selected papers. The mismatch that was most often included in the assessments was Unsatisfied demand, whereas the least included mismatch was Unsustainable uptake. The mismatches caused by differing spatial patterns were most often identified, whereas the existence of mismatches among different stakeholder groups was least often detected in the assessment methods.
Three options emerged that could further strengthen the discriminative capacity of ES supply and demand assessments to inform sustainable ES governance and management decisions: (i) include multiple stakeholders groups and the diversification of their roles and demands; (ii) acknowledge that ES supply is not only determined by the bio-geophysical conditions, but also determined by the ES demand by society, in terms of their quantity, quality and location, as well as by the applied management; (iii) include temporal and spatial scale sensitivity into the discriminative capacity of assessment methods to allow for a better identification which institutional structures could most effectively act upon them.