- Ecosystem Services in Agricultural and Urban Landscapes ed. by Stephen Wratten et al.
In their book Ecosystem Services in Agricultural and Urban Landscapes, the editors highlight” the current global challenge to halt ecosystem degradation and (provide) updated knowledge of two crucial systems—agriculture and urban areas” (p. 195). This timely effort builds on Robert Constanza’s and Gretchen Daily’s pivotal work on the quantification of ecosystems services (ES), or the benefits derived from ecosystems, and applies the concept of ES to farmland and cities, the largest users of ecosystems and their benefits. The book is intended to increase the understanding of the role of ES in these areas for a range of users: from undergraduate and graduate students; economists; agriculturalists; ecologists; local and regional planners; and government personnel. Ultimately, the intention of the book is to develop concepts, policies, and methods for evaluating ES in these areas. The volume of contributed chapters is divided in four parts: an introduction, which sets the scene in terms of the ecological and economic implications of ES; a series of case studies drawing from differently managed systems; a series of case studies that explore ES at various spatial scales; and finally an exploration of ecological systems design and management towards the delivery of ES.
In the introductory section (Chapters 1–3), the contributors introduce the concept of ecosystems services, provide the range of different ES. Overall, the section does a sufficient job connecting the ecological processes and functions that support different ecosystem services, and in chapter 3 connects these different ES with economic implications through a brief description of different valuation methods. At times the introduction section reads inconsistently when defining key terms related to ecosystem services. For example, chapters 1 and 2 broadly organize ES into four categories: supporting, provisioning, regulating, and cultural services, while chapter 3 focuses on market/non-market [End Page 119] and direct use and indirect use values, without synchronizing the key concepts in the section. Although this has tremendous value for a general overview of different ways of evaluating and defining ecosystems services, it would be even more useful if a common language is drawn and agreed upon by the different users of the term.
The second section (Chapters 4–6), readers are presented with case-studies of the application of the concepts of ecosystems services in agriculture and urban areas. Contributors used current examples of viticulture, aquaculture, and urban landscapes to apply the concepts in the introductory section. In chapter 4, the authors describe ecosystem services in the form of conservation biological control to help improve pest management in viticulture. Chapter 5 applies the same theory to aquaculture, but in largely hypothetical scenarios, and also introduces the environmental and social tradeoffs of sustained aquaculture production. Chapter 6 provides an application of ES to urban ecosystems in Germany, describing differing types of urban vegetation and the main ecosystem services derived from them. Although the case studies seem to be of tremendous value since they provide a very robust collection of references for those looking for other studies in similar fields, they fail to make the connection between the ecosystems services and the valuation methods presented in the first part of the book.
That said, for readers looking how to measure and monitoring ES at multiple scales, section 3 does provide some framework of actual examples of field-scale assessment of ES on urbanized areas and farmland using remote sensing (chapter 8) and scenario building (chapter 9). This section builds on other published work, and successfully makes the bridge between the measurement of ecological processes and the estimate of the economic benefits derived from such. For example, in chapter 9, the authors provide a summary of mean economic value of ecosystem services in organic and conventional agriculture fields in New Zealand, and include models that estimate significant differences between the two modes...