Impacts of species-led conservation on ecosystem services of wetlands: understanding co-benefits and tradeoffs
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- Fisher, B., Bradbury, R.B., Andrews, J.E. et al. Biodivers Conserv (2011) 20: 2461. doi:10.1007/s10531-011-9998-y
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Biodiversity conservation organisations have recently begun to consider a wider ecosystem services context for their activities. While the literature suggests the potential of ‘win–win’ situations where biodiversity conservation and the delivery of ecosystem services overlap, empirical evidence is wanting. Here we explore the role that species-led management for the benefit of biodiversity in cultural landscapes can play in the delivery of wider ecosystem services. We use UK lowland wetlands as a case study and show how successful delivery of species-led conservation through management interventions relies on practices that can affect greenhouse gas fluxes, water quality and regulation, and cultural benefits. In these wetlands, livestock grazing has potentially large effects on water and greenhouse gas related services, but there is little scope to alter management without compromising species objectives. Likewise, there is little potential to alter reedbed management without compromising conservation objectives. There is some potential to alter woodland and scrub management, but this would likely have limited influence due to the relatively small area over which such management is practiced. The management of water levels potentially has large effects on provision of several services and there does appear to be some scope to align this objective with biodiversity objectives. A comprehensive understanding of the net costs and benefits to society of these interventions will require fine-grained research integrating ecological, economic and social science research. However, a less analytic understanding of the potential costs and benefits can highlight ways by which land management principally to achieve biodiversity conservation objectives might be modified to enhance delivery of other ecosystem services.