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      A conceptual framework and practical structure for implementing ecosystem condition accounts

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      One Ecosystem

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          Ecosystem condition is a fundamental component in the ecosystem accounting framework as part of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EEA). Here, we develop a conceptual framework and present a practical structure for implementing ecosystem condition accounts to contribute to the revision process of the SEEA EEA, focussing on six core elements: (1) developing a common definition of ecosystem condition, (2) establishing a conceptual framing for ecosystem condition, (3) portraying the role of condition within the SEEA EEA accounting system, (4) deriving an inclusive multi-purpose approach, (5) describing the components of condition accounts and (6) developing a three-stage structure for reporting accounts. We develop a conceptual framework for an inclusive condition account, building on an ecological understanding of ecosystems upon which definitions, concepts, classifications and reporting structures were based. The framework encompasses the dual perspectives of first, the interdependencies of ecosystem composition, structure and function in maintaining ecosystem integrity and second, the capacity of ecosystems to supply services as benefits for humans. The following components of ecosystem condition accounts are recommended to provide comprehensive, consistent, repeatable and transparent accounts: (1) intrinsic and instrumental values, together with ecocentric and anthropocentric worldviews; (2) a formal typology or classification of characteristics, variables and indicators, based on selection criteria; (3) a reference condition used both to compare past, current and future levels of indicators of condition and as a basis for aggregation of indicators; and (4) a three-stage approach to compiling accounts with increasing levels of information and complexity that are appropriate for different purposes and applications. The recommended broad and inclusive scope of ecosystem condition and the demonstrated practical methods for implementation of accounts will enhance the ecosystem accounting framework and thus support a wider range of current and potential applications and users.

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          Most cited references 54

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          The planetary boundaries framework defines a safe operating space for humanity based on the intrinsic biophysical processes that regulate the stability of the Earth system. Here, we revise and update the planetary boundary framework, with a focus on the underpinning biophysical science, based on targeted input from expert research communities and on more general scientific advances over the past 5 years. Several of the boundaries now have a two-tier approach, reflecting the importance of cross-scale interactions and the regional-level heterogeneity of the processes that underpin the boundaries. Two core boundaries—climate change and biosphere integrity—have been identified, each of which has the potential on its own to drive the Earth system into a new state should they be substantially and persistently transgressed.
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                Author and article information

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                Journal
                One Ecosystem
                OE
                Pensoft Publishers
                2367-8194
                November 09 2020
                November 09 2020
                : 5
                Article
                10.3897/oneeco.5.e58216
                © 2020

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