A conceptual framework and practical structure for implementing ecosystem condition accounts

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Keith, Heather
Czúcz, Bálint
Jackson, Bethanna
Driver, Amanda
Nicholson, Emily
Maes, Joachim
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2020
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Abstract

Ecosystem condition is a fundamental component in the ecosystem accounting framework as part of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EEA). Here, we develop a conceptual framework and present a practical structure for implementing ecosystem condition accounts to contribute to the revision process of the SEEA EEA, focussing on six core elements: (1) developing a common definition of ecosystem condition, (2) establishing a conceptual framing for ecosystem condition, (3) portraying the role of condition within the SEEA EEA accounting system, (4) deriving an inclusive multi-purpose approach, (5) describing the components of condition accounts and (6) developing a three-stage structure for reporting accounts. We develop a conceptual framework for an inclusive condition account, building on an ecological understanding of ecosystems upon which definitions, concepts, classifications and reporting structures were based. The framework encompasses the dual perspectives of first, the interdependencies of ecosystem composition, structure and function in maintaining ecosystem integrity and second, the capacity of ecosystems to supply services as benefits for humans. The following components of ecosystem condition accounts are recommended to provide comprehensive, consistent, repeatable and transparent accounts: (1) intrinsic and instrumental values, together with ecocentric and anthropocentric worldviews; (2) a formal typology or classification of characteristics, variables and indicators, based on selection criteria; (3) a reference condition used both to compare past, current and future levels of indicators of condition and as a basis for aggregation of indicators; and (4) a three-stage approach to compiling accounts with increasing levels of information and complexity that are appropriate for different purposes and applications. The recommended broad and inclusive scope of ecosystem condition and the demonstrated practical methods for implementation of accounts will enhance the ecosystem accounting framework and thus support a wider range of current and potential applications and users.

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One Ecosystem

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5

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© Keith H et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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Ecology

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Keith, H; Czúcz, B; Jackson, B; Driver, A; Nicholson, E; Maes, J, A conceptual framework and practical structure for implementing ecosystem condition accounts, One Ecosystem, 5, pp. e58216

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