Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Water Resources Management—Tools, Policies, Promising Pathways
Ecosystems provide a range of services, including water purification, erosion prevention, and flood risk mitigation, that are important to water resource managers. But as a sector, water resources management has been slow to incorporate ecosystem protection and restoration, for a variety of reasons, although related concepts such as nature-based solutions and green infrastructure are gaining traction. We explain some of the existing challenges to wider uptake of the ecosystem services concept in water resources management and introduce some promising avenues for research and practice, elaborated in more detail through 12 papers, spanning five continents and a variety of contexts, which make up a Special Issue on “Incorporating Ecosystem Services into Water Resources Management”. Cross-cutting themes include (A) ecosystem services as a flexible concept to communicate with stakeholders; (B) participatory processes to involve stakeholders in research; (C) multiple values, and valuation methods, of water-related services; and (D) applications of decision-support tools. We conclude with a summary of research gaps and emphasize the importance of co-producing knowledge with decision makers and other stakeholders, in order to improve water resources management through the integration of ecosystem services.