Quantifying interregional flows of multiple ecosystem services – A case study for Germany

Janina Kleemann, Matthias Schröter, Kenneth J. Bagstad, Christian Kuhlicke, Thomas Kastner, Dor Fridman, Catharina J.E. Schulp, Sarah Wolff, Javier Martínez-López, Thomas Koellner, Sebastian Arnhold, Berta Martín-López, Alexandra Marques, Laura Lopez-Hoffman, Jianguo Liu, Meidad Kissinger, Carlos Antonio Guerra, Aletta Bonn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Despite a growing number of national-scale ecosystem service (ES) assessments, few studies consider the impacts of ES use and consumption beyond national or regional boundaries. Interregional ES flows – ecosystem services “imported” from and “exported” to other countries – are rarely analyzed and their importance for global sustainability is little known. Here, we provide a first multi-ES quantification of a nation's use of ES from abroad. We focus on ES flows that benefit the population in Germany but are supplied outside German territory. We employ a conceptual framework recently developed to systematically quantify interregional ES flows. We address four types of interregional ES flows with: (i) biophysical flows of traded goods: cocoa import for consumption; (ii) flows mediated by migratory species: migration of birds providing pest control; (iii) passive biophysical flows: flood control along transboundary watersheds; and (iv) information flows: China's giant panda loan to the Berlin Zoo. We determined that: (i) Ivory Coast and Ghana alone supply around 53% of Germany's cocoa while major negative consequences for biodiversity occurred in Cameroon and Ecuador; (ii) Africa´s humid and sub-humid climate zones are important habitats for the majority of migratory bird species that provide natural pest control services in agricultural areas in Germany; (iii) Upstream watersheds outside the country add an additional 64% flood regulation services nationally, while Germany exports 40% of flood regulation services in neighboring, downstream countries; (iv) Information flows transported by the pandas were mainly related to political aspects and - contrary to our expectations - considerably less on biological and natural aspects. We discuss the implications of these results for international resource management policy and governance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number102051
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
StatePublished - Mar 2020


  • Assessment
  • Flow
  • Interregional ecosystem services
  • Quantification
  • Telecoupling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Ecology
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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