6 July 2022

Natural capital accounting (NCA) is a tool used for measuring the changes in the stock of natural capital at a variety of scales and for integrating the value of ecosystem services into accounting and reporting systems at the international, EU, and national levels. In a recently published article in the journal Ecosystem Services, written by MAIA project partners, a new classification scheme is proposed that organises different models and modelling approaches. The aim is to use this newly created framework that can be efficiently used in the water regulation ecosystem services (ES) assessment.

Water regulation ES are key elements of regulating services in ecosystem accounting, with the most relevant studies predominantly relying on models for ES quantification up to now. The paper reviews the modelling efforts for water regulation ES based on 148 scientific papers, properly systematised, analysed, and interpreted by using a detailed and structured original template. 

The paper’s contribution to the existing scholarship is based on its proposal for a classification scheme, which organises the 92 different models and modelling approaches identified in the initial review process into eight model categories. This can ensure this scheme can be efficiently used in the water ES assessment and for further integration into the accounting framework. 

The most popular models are found to be the hydrologic model SWAT and the modelling tool InVEST. The review results show that there is a discrepancy between the general ES literature and the accounting-related papers. 

In terms of the research findings, main research priorities on model integration in the accounting of water regulation ES were identified. Firstly, the need for further development of guidelines for the use of models in ecosystem accounting. Secondly, the analyses of the spatial aspects of the model should be steered towards a clear distinction between ecosystem service supply and use. And thirdly, development is necessary in integrated modelling approaches for water regulation ES accounting. 

To learn more about water regulation ecosystem services access the article here

Image: Spatial distribution of the case studies on water regulation ES by countries.

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