The use of scenarios and models to evaluate the future of nature values and ecosystem services in Mediterranean forests

Abstract

Science and society are increasingly interested in predicting the effects of global change and socio-economic development on natural systems, to ensure maintenance of both ecosystems and human well-being. The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services has identified the combination of ecological modelling and scenario forecasting as key to improving our understanding of those effects, by evaluating the relationships and feedbacks between direct and indirect drivers of change, biodiversity, and ecosystem services. Using as case study the forests of the Mediterranean basin (complex socio-ecological systems of high social and conservation value), we reviewed the literature to assess (1) what are the modelling approaches most commonly used to predict the condition and trends of biodiversity and ecosystem services under future scenarios of global change, (2) what are the drivers of change considered in future scenarios and at what scales, and (3) what are the nature and ecosystem service indicators most commonly evaluated. Our review shows that forecasting studies make relatively little use of modelling approaches accounting for actual ecological processes and feedbacks between different socio-ecological sectors; predictions are generally made on the basis of a single (mainly climate) or a few drivers of change. In general, there is a bias in the set of nature and ecosystem service indicators assessed. In particular, cultural services and human well-being are greatly underrepresented in the literature. We argue that these shortfalls hamper our capacity to make the best use of predictive tools to inform decision-making in the context of global change.

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Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Spanish Government through the INMODES project (grant number CGL2017-89999-C2-2-R), the ERA-NET FORESTERRA project INFORMED (grant number 29183), and the project Boscos Sans per a una Societat Saludable funded by Obra Social la Caixa (https://obrasociallacaixa.org/). AMO and AA were supported by Spanish Government through the “Juan de la Cierva” fellowship program (IJCI-2016-30349 and IJCI-2016-30049, respectively). JVRD was supported by the Government of Asturias and the FP7-Marie Curie-COFUND program of the European Commission (Grant “Clarín” ACA17-02).

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Correspondence to Alejandra Morán-Ordóñez.

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Editor: Wolfgang Cramer.

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Morán-Ordóñez, A., Roces-Díaz, J.V., Otsu, K. et al. The use of scenarios and models to evaluate the future of nature values and ecosystem services in Mediterranean forests. Reg Environ Change 19, 415–428 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10113-018-1408-5

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Keywords

  • Ecological forecasting
  • Future scenarios
  • Global change
  • Impact assessment evaluations
  • IPBES
  • Nature benefits to people
  • Socio-ecological systems