Landcare Research - Manaaki Whenua

Landcare-Research -Manaaki Whenua

Understanding ecosystem services & limits


This research will enable more confident decision-making to sustain the life-supporting qualities of ecosystems. Globally, there is growing concern that the exploitation of ecosystems and land use intensification is causing widespread declines in ecosystem condition. Nationally, there is an urgent need to develop evidence-based policy that takes ecosystem services and limits into account (e.g., the scope of work by the Land & Water Forum). 

The scientific goal of this work is to better understand the key pressures and drivers of ecosystem change, the consequences for ecosystem properties and processes, and ultimately ecosystem services (i.e. benefits such as carbon sequestration, water availability, and contaminant removal). Research will help policy-makers understand what drives ecosystem change, and the spatial and temporal trade-offs in managing for different or multiple ecosystem services. The research area will lead data integration and syntheses across disciplines, determine the consequences of ecosystem degradation or rehabilitation, and ultimately resolve to what extent ecosystems are able to provide sustainable services.

Key research partners include AgResearch and ESR (sustaining soil services);  and Stanford University, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Lancaster University, and the University of Nevada (increasing ecosystem resilience to weeds).

Research priority areas:

  • Ecosystem services interactions & controls
  • Ecosystem services pressures & limits
  • Multiple pressures & ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem services relevance & policy