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Ecosystem Services Flows: Why Stakeholders’ Power Relationships Matter

AuthorsFelipe Lucía, María CSIC ORCID; Martín-López, Berta; Lavorel, Sandra; Berraquero-Díaz, Luis; Escalera-Reyes, Javier; Comín, Francisco A. CSIC ORCID
Issue Date22-Jul-2015
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 10(7): e0132232 (2015)
AbstractThe ecosystem services framework has enabled the broader public to acknowledge the benefits nature provides to different stakeholders. However, not all stakeholders benefit equally from these services. Rather, power relationships are a key factor influencing the access of individuals or groups to ecosystem services. In this paper, we propose an adaptation of the “cascade” framework for ecosystem services to integrate the analysis of ecological interactions among ecosystem services and stakeholders’ interactions, reflecting power relationships that mediate ecosystem services flows. We illustrate its application using the floodplain of the River Piedra (Spain) as a case study. First, we used structural equation modelling (SEM) to model the dependence relationships among ecosystem services. Second, we performed semi-structured interviews to identify formal power relationships among stakeholders. Third, we depicted ecosystem services according to stakeholders’ ability to use, manage or impair ecosystem services in order to expose how power relationships mediate access to ecosystem services. Our results revealed that the strongest power was held by those stakeholders who managed (although did not use) those keystone ecosystem properties and services that determine the provision of other services (i.e., intermediate regulating and final services). In contrast, non-empowered stakeholders were only able to access the remaining non-excludable and non-rival ecosystem services (i.e., some of the cultural services, freshwater supply, water quality, and biological control). In addition, land stewardship, access rights, and governance appeared as critical factors determining the status of ecosystem services. Finally, we stress the need to analyse the role of stakeholders and their relationships to foster equal access to ecosystem services.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0132232
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