Operationalizing an ecosystem services-based approach using Bayesian Belief Networks: An application to riparian buffer strips
The interface between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems contributes to the provision of key ecosystem services including improved water quality and reduced flood risk. We develop an ecological–economic model using a Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) to assess and value the delivery of ecosystem services from riparian buffer strips. By capturing the interactions underlying ecosystem processes and the delivery of services we aim to further the operationalization of ecosystem services approaches. The model is developed through outlining the underlying ecological processes which deliver ecosystem services. Alternative management options and regional locations are used for sensitivity analysis.
We identify optimal management options but reveal relatively small differences between impacts of different management options. We discuss key issues raised as a result of the probabilistic nature of the BBN model. Uncertainty over outcomes has implications for the approach to valuation particularly where preferences might exhibit non-linearities or thresholds. The interaction between probabilistic outcomes and the statistical nature of valuation estimates suggests the need for further exploration of sensitivity in such models. Although the BBN is a promising participatory decision support tool, there remains a need to understand the trade-off between realism, precision and the benefits of developing joint understanding of the decision context.