Deakin University
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A review of ecosystem condition accounts: lessons learned and options for further development

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journal contribution
posted on 2020-06-15, 00:00 authored by Joachim Maes, Amanda Driver, Bálint Czúcz, Heather Keith, Bethanna Jackson, Emily Nicholson, Malik Dasoo
Ecosystem condition accounts are part of the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting – Experimental Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EEA). An ecosystem condition account contains aggregated statistical information about the overall abiotic and biotic quality of an ecosystem at a policy relevant spatial scale. This article reviews 23 publicly-accessible reports undertaken or commissioned by government agencies, academic and non-government organisations that discuss or present an ecosystem condition account. This analysis revealed that ecosystem condition is usually reported for one or more ecosystem types, but there is little consistency in the terminology used to define ecosystem types. All case studies report variables or indicators that measure specific ecosystem characteristics in order to make inferences about the overall condition of ecosystems. All studies included biotic indicators and almost all studies included species-based indicators in the condition account. The thematic aggregation of indicators into a single composite index (or in a few composite sub-indices) is not a standard practice, but applied in about half of the studies. The definition and use of a reference condition or reference levels for specific indicators against which the reported condition can be evaluated is not a standard practice, but was applied in about half of the studies. Based on this analysis, we suggest the revision of the SEEA EEA to propose a globally-consistent typology of ecosystem types; to recommend a list of ecosystem condition indicators according to an agreed classification; to provide further guidance on aggregation methods and on the development of an ecosystem condition index that can be used to compare ecosystem condition across ecosystem types and across different accounting areas; to provide further guidance on how best to set reference levels and reference conditions against which the past, current and future ecosystem condition can be assessed; and to propose a standard set of statistical tables for reporting the condition account.



One Ecosystem




Pensoft Publishers


Sofia, Bulgaria





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C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2020, The Authors

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