Comparing Hydrological Ecosystem Services Models for Integrated Decision-Support in the Chiquito River Watershed, Nicaragua

2018/01/22

Comparing Hydrological Ecosystem Services Models for Integrated Decision-Support in the Chiquito River Watershed, Nicaragua

New open-access journal publication in Sustainability

Modelling results of SWAT. On the left: Capacities to retain sediment (a) and to regulate water flow (b).
Modelling results of SWAT. On the left: Capacities to retain sediment (a) and to regulate water flow (b).

Different simulation models are used in science and practice in order to incorporate hydrological ecosystem services in decision-making processes. This contribution compares three simulation models, the Soil and Water Assessment Tool, a traditional hydrological model and two ecosystem services models, the Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Trade-offs model and the Resource Investment Optimization System model. The three models are compared on a theoretical and conceptual basis as well in a comparative case study application. The application of the models to a study area in Nicaragua reveals that a practical benefit to apply these models for different questions in decision-making generally exists. However, modelling of hydrological ecosystem services is associated with a high application effort and requires input data that may not always be available. The degree of detail in temporal and spatial variability in ecosystem service provision is higher when using the Soil and Water Assessment Tool compared to the two ecosystem service models. In contrast, the ecosystem service models have lower requirements on input data and process knowledge. A relationship between service provision and beneficiaries is readily produced and can be visualized as a model output. The visualization is especially useful for a practical decision-making context.

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