NL-13 :: Valuation of the soil-sediment-water system (ecosystem services)

The subsurface provides goods and services to man and the society and thereby represents a natural capital. Examples of these ecosystem services are clean drinking water, soil fertility and climate regulation. The economic value of these services delivered in and on the subsurface is important in valuation of our natural capital. Ecosystem services are a way to translate the biological, physical, chemical and socio-cultural value of the soil into values that may be used in cost-benefit analyses etc.. One of the research questions that re-appears under the different societal challenges irols how to value this natural capital. Criteria such as scarcity (global and local) and permanent versus temporary damage to the soil-sediment-water system play a role in the discussion. Underneath a short narrative is given on sustainable use of ecosystems.
Narrative: sustainable use of our ecosystems
Ecosystems deliver goods and services that are of crucial value for mankind, and should therefore be managed in a sustainable way. To achieve this, it needs to be explained what natural capital and ecosystem services are and what they mean to us.
Natural capital and ecosystem services can be used in assessing land management options such as functions in groundwater, resource use (sand, gravel etc.). Different scenarios should be investigated for a long term period.
Better understanding of the soil-sediment-water system is the basis. We can make use of the existing knowledge and develop new knowledge where needed. Many stakeholders can benefit of knowing and using natural capital and ecosystem services. National and regional authorities, business and industry (agriculture food, chemical industry, drinking water companies etc), water authorities, NGO’s etc.
There are already examples of public-private partnerships that work together and are take care of the environmental quality of an area to ensure continuity of business and interests of other stakeholders.
Using natural capital and ecosystem services pays off and is therefore interesting for many parties. Making the benefits explicit helps to get the focus of stakeholders on this subject.
Specific research questions:
Natural capital
• What is the (main) contribution of the soil ecosystem to natural capital and which are the system characteristics determining this?
• How can we optimize or recover system characteristics features?
• Is organic matter such a system characteristic (role of organic matter for soil functions: soil fertility, infiltration, carbon storage, filtration, soil resilience)?
• What is the significance of soil (life) for societal challenges?
• What can be an indicator for good soil quality and can it used for communication, monitoring and threshold value?
Land management
• How can the ecosystem be used in a sustainable way (from "to knowing what it has to offer," implementation through building concepts with nature concepts and eco-engineering, to ending use and recovery)?
• What are the possibilities for ecosystem services and how to value, optimize and cash these possibilities?
• How can companies / industries provide services with their soil-sediment-water system / land surface for the surrounding area?