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Solution scanning as a key policy tool: identifying management interventions to help maintain and enhance regulating ecosystem services

William J. Sutherland, Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
Toby Gardner, Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
Tiffany L. Bogich, Princeton University, Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Richard B. Bradbury, Conservation Science Department, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
Brent Clothier, New Zealand Plant & Food Research, Climate Lab
Mattias Jonsson, Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Val Kapos, United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Stuart N. Lane, Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, Science Laboratories
Iris Möller, Cambridge Coastal Research Unit, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
Martin Schroeder, Department of Ecology, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences
Mark Spalding, The Nature Conservancy and Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge
Tom Spencer, Cambridge Coastal Research Unit, Department of Geography, University of Cambridge
Piran C. L. White, Environment Department, University of York
Lynn V. Dicks, Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-06082-190203

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Abstract

The major task of policy makers and practitioners when confronted with a resource management problem is to decide on the potential solution(s) to adopt from a range of available options. However, this process is unlikely to be successful and cost effective without access to an independently verified and comprehensive available list of options. There is currently burgeoning interest in ecosystem services and quantitative assessments of their importance and value. Recognition of the value of ecosystem services to human well-being represents an increasingly important argument for protecting and restoring the natural environment, alongside the moral and ethical justifications for conservation. As well as understanding the benefits of ecosystem services, it is also important to synthesize the practical interventions that are capable of maintaining and/or enhancing these services. Apart from pest regulation, pollination, and global climate regulation, this type of exercise has attracted relatively little attention. Through a systematic consultation exercise, we identify a candidate list of 296 possible interventions across the main regulating services of air quality regulation, climate regulation, water flow regulation, erosion regulation, water purification and waste treatment, disease regulation, pest regulation, pollination and natural hazard regulation. The range of interventions differs greatly between habitats and services depending upon the ease of manipulation and the level of research intensity. Some interventions have the potential to deliver benefits across a range of regulating services, especially those that reduce soil loss and maintain forest cover.
Synthesis and applications: Solution scanning is important for questioning existing knowledge and identifying the range of options available to researchers and practitioners, as well as serving as the necessary basis for assessing cost effectiveness and guiding implementation strategies. We recommend that it become a routine part of decision making in all environmental policy areas.

Key words

Climate regulation; policy making; pollination; regulating services; solution scanning; water regulation
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