Indexed on: 10 Jul '14Published on: 10 Jul '14Published in: Journal of Environmental Management
Freshwater ponds deliver a broad range of ecosystem services (ESS). Taking into account this broad range of services to attain cost-effective ESS delivery is an important challenge facing integrated pond management. To assess the strengths and weaknesses of an ESS approach to support decisions in integrated pond management, we applied it on a small case study in Flanders, Belgium. A Bayesian belief network model was developed to assess ESS delivery under three alternative pond management scenarios: intensive fish farming (IFF), extensive fish farming (EFF) and nature conservation management (NCM). A probabilistic cost-benefit analysis was performed that includes both costs associated with pond management practices and benefits associated with ESS delivery. Whether or not a particular ESS is included in the analysis affects the identification of the most preferable management scenario by the model. Assessing the delivery of a more complete set of ecosystem services tends to shift the results away from intensive management to more biodiversity-oriented management scenarios. The proposed methodology illustrates the potential of Bayesian belief networks. BBNs facilitate knowledge integration and their modular nature encourages future model expansion to more encompassing sets of services. Yet, we also illustrate the key weaknesses of such exercises, being that the choice whether or not to include a particular ecosystem service may determine the suggested optimal management practice.