There is a growing consensus that sustainable development requires a behavioral change, forced by firm decision-making. However, existing decision-supporting tools are unlikely to provide relevant information, hampered by the complexity of combined socio-economic and natural systems. Protecting the intrinsic value of ecosystems and providing sufficient natural resources for human use at the same time leads up to a wide span of management, ranging from species traits to governance. The aim of this study is to investigate the interactions between the natural and economic systems from the perspective of sustainable development. The way to reduce systems complexity by selecting key factors of ecosystem functioning for policy and management purposes is discussed. To achieve this, the Pentatope Model is used as a holistic framework, an ecosystem nodes network is developed to select key factors, and a combined natural and socio-economic valuation scheme is drawn. These key factors—abiotic resources and conditions, biodiversity, and biomass—are considered fundamental to the ecosystem properties habitat range and carrying capacity. Their characteristics are discussed in relation to sustainable water management. The conclusion is that sustainable development requires environmental decision-making that includes the intrinsic natural value, and should be supported by ecological modelling, additional environmental quality standards, and substance balances.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited