Sectoral Climate Services: Ecosystems

Effective ecosystem management plays a central role in climate change adaptation and DRR as it increases the resilience of natural systems and human societies to climate change impacts. Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA) involves a wide range of ecosystem management activities to increase resilience and reduce the vulnerability of people and the environment to climate change. This includes integrated water resource management, sustainable forest management interventions, and sustainable agriculture.

Besides the benefits for climate adaptation, the value of ecosystems and their services in contributing to a countries wealth as natural capital is well established. Wealth accounting, including natural capital accounting (NCA), is needed to sustain growth. The basis for effective ecosystem management and the development of ecosystem accounts is a detailed yet large-scale assessment of the natural resources and changes in those.

This example highlights how EO and advanced Geographical Information System (GIS) analyses as well as dedicated ecosystem models, such as the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST), support effective EbA, management, and valuation. It comprises different levels of output products, depending on the user requirements and available input data.

Input data

Input data can include EO and non-EO input data such as:

  • Delineation of important/critical habitats and threats (e.g. land cover/use mapping, flood and drought risk mapping based on soil moisture, vegetation and/or rainfall)
  • Reference data for interpretation and validation (e.g. in situ data, pictures, local expert knowledge)
  • Transportation network (derived from land cover mapping or Open Street Map)
  • Settlements (derived from land cover mapping or Open Street Map)
  • Administrative boundaries
  • Soil erosion mapping based on satellite based digital terrain information, soil maps and climate data (rainfall)

Apart from the tangible land cover/use products, the end users will be able to receive different levels of information and products supporting ecosystem-based adaptation measures, effective ecosystem management and valuation.

A habitat quality map shows pixel values ranging from 0 (low quality) to 1 (high quality). Fragmented or degraded patches will show lower quality and associated biodiversity values due to a high intensity of threats. Areas with high habitat quality are generally concentrated in less modified areas (less road access, settlements and agricultural land use).

Such information can be used to derive a map indicating suitability for utilisation purposes as knowledge about biodiversity can drive land use planning, and areas of low biodiversity will be used first. In the proposed site utilisation suitability map areas shown in red indicate areas of low conservation value that are more suitable for utilisation purposes. From a nature conservation perspective areas shown in blue are of importance, indicating large patch size and high habitat quality.