Assessment of spatial variability of multiple ecosystem services in grasslands of different intensities

Solen Le Clec'h*, Robert Finger, Nina Buchmann, Arjan S. Gosal, Lukas Hörtnagl, Olivier Huguenin-Elie, Philippe Jeanneret, Andreas Lüscher, Manuel K. Schneider, Robert Huber

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Grasslands provide multiple Ecosystem Services (ES) such as forage provision, carbon sequestration or habitat provision. Knowledge about the trade-offs between these ES is of great importance for grassland management. Yet, the outcome of different management strategies on ES provision is highly uncertain due to spatial variability. We aim to characterize the provision (level and spatial variability) of grassland ES under various management strategies. To do so, we combine empirical data for multiple ES with spatially explicit census data on land use intensities. We analyzed the variations of five ES (forage provision, climate regulation, pollination, biodiversity conservation and outdoor recreation) using data from biodiversity fieldwork, experimental plots for carbon as well as social network data from Flickr. These data were used to calculate the distribution of modelled individual and multiple ES values from different grassland management types in a Swiss case study region using spatial explicit information for 17,383 grassland parcels. Our results show that (1) management regime and intensity levels play an important role in ES provision but their impact depends on the ES. In general, extensive management, especially in pastures, favors all ES but forage provision, whereas intensive management favors only forage provision and outdoor recreation; (2) ES potential provision varies between parcels under the same management due to the influence of environmental drivers, related to topography and landscape structure; (3) there is a trade-offs between forage provision and other ES at the cantonal level but a synergy between forage provision and biodiversity conservation within the grassland categories, due to the negative impact of elevation on both ES. Information about multiple ES provision is key to support effective agri-environmental measures and information about the spatial variability can prevent uncertain outputs of decision-making processes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number109372
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2019


  • ES provision
  • Land use
  • Management strategies
  • Modelling
  • Switzerland
  • Trade-offs


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