Services provided by Waikato’s ecosystems

Services provided by Waikato’s ecosystems

Kessels Ecology staff have been working with Waikato Regional Council (WRC) to identify and assess ecosystem services provided by representative lake and wetland ecosystems across the Waikato region.

Ecosystem services is a concept that links ecological and economic systems and refers to the goods and services provided by natural (or semi-natural) ecosystems, generally, to the benefit of humans. As a classification system, ecosystem services are broadly categorised into supporting services (e.g. habitat for animals), provisioning services (e.g. food, water), regulating services (e.g. flood regulation, climate regulation) and cultural services (e.g. aesthetics, recreation).

Kessels Ecology have been working with Femi Olubode-Awosola and the WRC Social & Economic Science team to develop a set of suitable indicators to measure the provision of ecosystem services and use these to assess the services of lake and wetland ecosystems. This involved an analysis of the ecosystem services of twenty-two sites which have now been assessed, quantified, and evaluated. The study takes into consideration diverse datasets covering hydrology, ecology, catchment land use, water quality, economic, demographic and all other relevant data available for collection for each site.

The pilot study concluded that the wetland and lakes, in all cases, provide extremely beneficial ecosystem services to the Waikato and New Zealand as a whole. The report also recommended that certain indicators for ecosystem services could be added to the annual monitoring of lakes and wetlands which would provide more detailed information for any future ecosystem services studies. This would allow for more detailed and site-specific assessments of the provision of ecosystem services and a better quantification of their values.

The WRC’s Freshwater Ecosystem Services Map, an interactive map that identifies the sites, ecosystems, and services analysed, can be found at waikatoregion.maps.arcgis.com.