Ecosystem Services and River Basin Management

  • Kate A. BraumanEmail author
  • Suzanne van der Meulen
  • Jos Brils
Part of the The Handbook of Environmental Chemistry book series (HEC, volume 29)


Ecosystem services are the goods and services provided by ecosystems that maintain and improve human well-being. This framework is inherently anthropocentric, organizing ecological processes by their effects on human beneficiaries and explicitly connecting ecosystem processes to human welfare. The ecosystem services approach facilitates management of a complex system by incorporating important aspects of risk-informed management. Ecosystem services provide a framework for assessing the many stressors to and outputs of a river basin by organizing stakeholders, identifying those whose actions affect the provision of ecosystem services and those whose well-being will be impacted by changes in the provision of ecosystem services, and by delineating the mechanisms by which land-use changes affect stakeholders. The framework is best used to assess changes in ecosystem service delivery and can be useful for considering the trade-offs among services provided by a variety of plausible future land-use scenarios. Within the ecosystem services framework, stakeholder beneficiaries identify the ecosystem services they find valuable. Ecosystem service valuation is not necessarily monetary valuation, but using money as a common currency for comparison can aid decision-making. Economic valuation approaches have a number of problems and pitfalls, but when thoughtfully applied, they allow the possibility of payments for ecosystem services, which can be a useful tool when command-and-control regulation does not work or is politically infeasible. Overall, ecosystem services are a useful tool for river basin managers because they provide a coherent context to incorporate stakeholders and complex biophysical processes into a consistent, learning-based management scheme.


Common language Economic valuation Ecosystem services Hydrologic services Land-use change Payment River basin management Watershed 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kate A. Brauman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Suzanne van der Meulen
    • 2
  • Jos Brils
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute on the EnvironmentUniversity of MinnesotaSt PaulUSA
  2. 2.DeltaresUtrechtThe Netherlands

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