Trade-off in ecosystem services of the Somerset Levels and Moors wetlands

Acreman, M.C.; Harding, R.J.; Lloyd, C.; McNamara, N.P.; Mountford, J.O.; Mould, D.J.; Purse, B.V.; Heard, M.S.; Stratford, C.J.; Dury, S.J.. 2011 Trade-off in ecosystem services of the Somerset Levels and Moors wetlands. Hydrological Sciences Journal, 56 (8). 1543-1565.

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It is widely recognised that healthy ecosystems can provide considerable benefits to people, including food, timber, freshwater, protection from floods and much of what we call quality of life. A global review of these ecosystem services carried out as part of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) provided a framework for national and local studies. Using the MA approach, this paper reviews the ecosystem services provided by the Somerset Levels and Moors wetland system in south-west England. This wetland provides a series of important services that are beneficial locally, regional and globally, including grazing for cattle, potential carbon sequestration, flood water storage, recreation and archaeology. Some services are synergistic and reinforcing; for example, maintaining wet conditions supports wetland bird life that maintains biological diversity, attracts tourists, protects archaeological artefacts and reduces CO2 emissions. Other services are potentially conflicting, for example raising water levels may reduce potential flood water storage and increase methane emissions. Comparison of the services of the wetland with those of drier habitats reveals for example that carbon sequestration, bird habitat provision and hay production is greater in wetlands, whilst grazing quality and plant diversity may be reduced and distributions of disease vectors may be altered by wetland restoration through raising water levels. Management decisions affecting wetlands may necessitate a trade-off of ecosystem services.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Topics & Objectives 2009 - 2012 > Water > WA Topic 2 - Ecohydrological Processes
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Shore
UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 0262-6667
Additional Keywords: ecosystem services, wetlands, Somerset Levels and Moors, ecosystem function, floods, water resources, carbon sequestration, tourism, archaeology
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 19 Dec 2011 14:08 +0 (UTC)

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