Land, agriculture, and governance: lessons from a longitudinal study of coupled human-environment systems

23 November 2018
Land system
Coupled human–environment system
Sustainability accounting
Provisioning services

The article 'Ecosystem services as the products of land system dynamics: lessons from a longitudinal study of coupled human–environment systems', by Richard Aspinall and Michele Staiano (UNINA), was released today in the journal Landscape Ecology

In this paper, the authors address the understanding of whole-system and landscape-based approaches to the ecosystem services framework by considering the supply of provisioning services and the dynamics of agricultural land use in Scotland between 1940 and 2016. The analysis  is aimed at identifying ways in which funds of capitals and flows of  inputs and output ecosystem goods are linked to land management  practices and policies at a national scale. Data describing agricultural land use, production, financial and  energy inputs and outputs, and drivers of change in land use in Scotland are analyzed with an integrated accounting framework that links funds of  natural, human, physical and financial capital, with flows of goods and services. Flow–fund ratios are used as benchmarks of system performance and dynamics.

Adopting an integrated accounting approach for understanding the role of  agricultural land use for the supply of provisioning services, and  particularly examining a long time-series of accounts, enables  understanding of land changes and underlying drivers, as well as the  contribution of cultural and other aspects of human systems coupled  with ecological systems. Accounting for ecosystem services using costs as well as benefits, and use of metrics beyond financial benefit supports debate and evaluation of trade-offs between services and has direct relevance for decision- and policy-making.

The final authenticated version is available online at:

A full-text view-only version has been made available by Springer online at: