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Spatial dynamics of biophysical trade-offs and synergies among ecosystem services in the Himalayas

Kishor Aryal, Tek Maraseni and Armando Apan

Ecosystem Services, 2023, vol. 59, issue C

Abstract: The production of ecosystem services (ES) is highly dependent on the current state of spatial distribution, pattern of occurrence, and interaction among them, which is barely studied in the Hindu-Kush Himalayas (HKH). Taking a case of a multifunctional landscape in the central HKH region, we aimed to assess the biophysical production possibilities of major ES, their relationships and co-occurrence, and dynamic interactions at different spatial scales. We quantified and mapped six major ES (crop production, timber production, carbon sequestration, soil conservation, water yield, and habitat quality) at two spatial scales: landscape level (functional unit) and watershed level (management unit). Further, we analysed the relationship and interactions among all the possible pairs of the considered ES. All six ES were found to have a positive correlation, except crop production which showed a significant negative correlation with soil conservation. Moreover, we delineated 186 watersheds in the landscape and clustered them based on their biophysical potentials for the supply of ES. Gap statistics from K-means clustering identified three main clusters of watersheds (i.e., agriculture-dominated, poor-performing uplands, and multifunctional). The supply of ES from downstream watersheds was substantially higher than that of the upstream watersheds. We then discussed the interrelationships among ES at various spatial scales and suggested policy instruments for ecosystem management. The relationship among ES shows dynamic forms of spatial distribution, which need to be sustainably managed for minimizing trade-offs and maximizing synergies through the consideration of an integrated watershed management approach, improved agronomy practices, and global climate actions.

Keywords: Mapping and quantification; Co-occurrence; Trade-offs in ecosystem services; Multifunctional watersheds, mountain landscapes (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2023
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DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2022.101503

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