Combining methods to estimate ecosystem integrity and ecosystem service potentials and flows for crop production in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany.
Human well-being is highly dependent on nature, especially with respect to food provision. This study has been developed in the ecosystem service framework and focuses on the evaluation of ecological integrity as a base for the capacity of Schleswig-Holstein to provide ecosystem services. The ecosystem service potential is assessed based upon a Bayesian belief network and the study area's soil fertility. The respective service flow is estimated from official regional statistics, and is represented by the total harvested biomass for food, fodder and energy. The spatial distribution of six different ecological integrity variables and the crop production potentials and flows are compared and interpreted with respect to the characteristics of the main landscape regions within the study area. The results indicate a trade-off between the actual crop production and the underlying ecological integrity and service potentials. This trade-off is strongest in case of croplands, while it gradually diminishes in grasslands and forests. Based on the results, conclusions about the relation between ecosystem services and ecological integrity are drawn. The findings of the study can be used to support the development of sustainable land management strategies, which aim to harmonize agricultural production and environmental conditions.