Quantifying Spatial Variation in Ecosystem Services Demand: A Global Mapping Approach

S. Wolff*, C. J E Schulp, T. Kastner, P. H. Verburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Understanding the spatial-temporal variability in ecosystem services (ES) demand can help anticipate externalities of land use change. This study presents new operational approaches to quantify and map demand for three non-commodity ES on a global scale: animal pollination, wild medicinal plants and outdoor recreation. We show how the demand for these ES differs between beneficiaries and world regions. While the demand for animal pollination is accounted for via the consumption preferences for pollinator-dependent crop products, the demand for wild medicinal plants is quantified by the direct reliance on wild medicinal plants for basic healthcare needs. The demand for outdoor recreation is represented by the possibility and interest to participate in related activities. For animal pollination and outdoor recreation, demand is highest in industrial countries; demand for wild medicinal plants is highest in least developed countries, given their direct reliance on this ES for healthcare. Spatial demand-supply mismatches can cause trade-offs between ES in distant provisioning areas and can lead to unintended impacts on human well-being. The study reveals that quantifying and mapping spatial patterns of ES demand on a global scale requires clear conceptualization and operationalization of specific ES to select the most appropriate methods and arrive at meaningful results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-29
Number of pages16
JournalEcological Economics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Crop pollination
  • Indicator
  • Non-commodity ecosystem services
  • Outdoor recreation
  • Trade-offs
  • Wild medicinal plants


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