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Information content of global ecosystem service databases and their suitability for decision advice

Stefan Schmidt and Ralf Seppelt

Ecosystem Services, 2018, vol. 32, issue PA, 22-40

Abstract: Databases have the potential to facilitate the integration of ecosystem service (ES) information into decision advice by collecting and condensing big data volumes in a standardized form. In this article we examined how ES databases support policy instruments to take nature’s benefits into account in decision-making. We analyzed 29 databases with global coverage containing information of 36,112 studies, projects and methods within more than 600,000 entries. We identified 93 indicators of information demand for six major policy instruments and matched database entries with these indicators. Findings showed databases contain information for most of the policy instruments. However, ES databases were limited regarding geographic representativeness, highlighting major information gaps in society’s poorest nations. We propose steps forward towards optimized knowledge exploitation and suggest five priority areas for mainstreaming ES information into decision-making: (i) quantitatively recognize nature’s value, (ii) develop prioritization schemes based on ES valuation, (iii) sensitive stakeholder engagement, (iv) support information access and capacity building to establish ES-based decision-making and (v) consider long-term returns of interventions in ES. These priority areas contribute to formalize standards for the documentation of knowledge on ES and provide a baseline for the establishment of ontologies that facilitate knowledge accessibility for decision-making.

Keywords: Policy instruments; Information supply; Information demand; Database synthesis; Standardization (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoser:v:32:y:2018:i:pa:p:22-40