The spatial relationships of ecosystem services are complex and poorly understood due to spatial mismatches between areas of provision and the areas that benefit. In this study, we assess the spatial flows of six key ecosystem services from and to mountain regions at the regional and global level. We identify major directions of spatial flow and illustrate different types and transfer mechanisms with detailed examples focusing on the European Alps and surrounding lowlands. Our results demonstrate that the spatial flows of ecosystem services range from local to global interactions and extend far beyond the regional level for most of the ecosystem services assessed. Transportation processes encompass passive biophysical processes and the active transportation of goods, distribution of information and traveling of people. Decision and policy-making can use this enhanced understanding to influence ecosystem service transfer and consequently manage natural resources in a sustainable way.
Article by Uta Schirpke, Ulrike Tappeiner & Erich Tasser in Scientific Reports Full-text is available as an open access article.