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Forests 2017, 8(12), 505; doi:10.3390/f8120505

Assessing Ecosystem Services in Rubber Dominated Landscapes in South-East Asia—A Challenge for Biophysical Modeling and Transdisciplinary Valuation

1
Institute of Agricultural Sciences in the Tropics and Subtropics (Hans-Ruthenberg-Institute), University of Hohenheim, 70593 Stuttgart, Germany
2
Naturschutzjugend Baden-Württemberg, 70178 Stuttgart, Germany
3
Extension and Communication Group, Humboldt University of Berlin, 10099 Berlin, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 2 November 2017 / Revised: 1 December 2017 / Accepted: 13 December 2017 / Published: 15 December 2017
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Abstract

The concept of ecosystem services (ESS) has been increasingly recognized for its potential in decision making processes concerning environmental policy. Multidisciplinary projects on rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) cultivation, integrating research on a variety of ESS, have been few and far between. More than three years of iterative workshops with regional stakeholders resulted in the development of future land use scenarios for our study area in Xishuangbanna, PR China. We used the InVEST (Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs) modeling framework to analyze their impact on sediment retention, water yield, habitat quality, and carbon sequestration and developed a model for assessing rubber yields. We investigated the percentage deviations of integrated ESS indices in each scenario, as compared to the initial state of 2015 and as a novelty used different statistical weighting methods to include rankings for the preference of ESS from three contrasting stakeholder groups. The business-as-usual scenario (BAU, continuous rubber expansions) revealed an increase in rubber yields trading off against all other ESS analyzed. Compared to BAU, the measures introduced in the balanced-trade-offs scenario (reforestation, reduced herbicide application, riverine buffer zones, etc.) reduced the total amount of rubber yield but enhanced habitat quality and regulating ESS. The results show that the integrated indices for the provisioning of ESS would be overestimated without the inclusion of the stakeholder groups. We conclude that policy regulations, if properly assessed with spatial models and integrated stakeholder feedback, have the potential to buffer the typical trade-off between agricultural intensification and environmental protection. View Full-Text
Keywords: South-East Asia; ecosystem services; rubber; land use planning; biodiversity; scenario modeling; InVEST; stakeholder involvement South-East Asia; ecosystem services; rubber; land use planning; biodiversity; scenario modeling; InVEST; stakeholder involvement
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Thellmann, K.; Blagodatsky, S.; Häuser, I.; Liu, H.; Wang, J.; Asch, F.; Cadisch, G.; Cotter, M. Assessing Ecosystem Services in Rubber Dominated Landscapes in South-East Asia—A Challenge for Biophysical Modeling and Transdisciplinary Valuation. Forests 2017, 8, 505.

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