Accounting for changes in flood control delivered by ecosystems at the EU level

Ecosyst Serv. 2020 Aug;44:101142. doi: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2020.101142.

Abstract

Ecosystem service accounts require quantifying the contribution of ecosystems to the society. However, estimation of the ecosystem service used (actual flow) remains still very challenging for regulating services. We developed an experimental ecosystem service account for flood control delivered by ecosystems including: 1) Biophysical modelling of ecosystem service potential, demand and actual flow. 2) Translation of the actual flow in monetary terms. 3) Compilation of accounting tables. Ultimately, we analysed changes in flood control between 2006 and 2012. The value of flood control delivered by ecosystems in 2012 is estimated at about 16 billion euro. This value increased by 1.14% between 2006 and 2012. This increase is mainly due to the sprawl of artificial areas into floodplains that benefit from flood control delivered by ecosystems. However, the role of natural capital to control floods is slightly decreasing. This is confirmed by the increase of artificial areas not protected by ecosystems (+1.9%, unmet demand). The role of natural capital to control floods could be enhanced by restoring ecosystems upstream from this unmet demand and increase the ecosystems contribution to human well-being. The methodology makes a significant contribution to the assessment of ecosystem services flow and the accounting framework.

Keywords: Accounting tables; Actual flow; Avoided damage cost; Monetary valuation; Service demanding areas; Service providing areas.