Mapping Ecosystem Services to Human Well-being: a toolkit to support integrated landscape management for the SDGs

Justin A. Johnson, Sarah K. Jones, Sylvia L.R. Wood, Rebecca Chaplin-Kramer, Peter L. Hawthorne, Mark Mulligan, Derric Pennington, Fabrice A. DeClerck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Scopus citations


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) emphasize the global and multi-dimensional nature of sustainability and thus require improving our capacity to articulate and trace the impact of ecosystem change to measures of human well-being. Yet, the integrated nature of these goals is challenging to assess without similarly integrated assessment tools. We present a new modeling toolkit, “Mapping Ecosystem Services to Human well-being” (MESH), that integrates commonly used, stand-alone ecosystem services (ES) models from the InVEST suite of models to quantify and illustrate the trade-offs and synergies across five ecosystem services and up to 10 associated SDGs. Development of the software and its functionality were informed by a broad stakeholder consultation with ministries, non-governmental organizations and civil society groups in West Africa to identify common barriers to uptake and application of modeling tools in developing countries. In light of this process, key features included in MESH are (1) integration of multiple ecosystem service (ES) models into a common modeling framework supported by a curated base data set, (2) built-in scenario generation capacity to support policy analysis, (3) visualization of outcomes and trade-offs, and (4) mapping of ecosystem service change to SDG targets and goals. We illustrate the use of MESH in a case study in the Volta basin of West Africa comparing the effectiveness of three alternative conservation prioritization approaches: (1) land cover-based, (2) topographic-based, and (3) an ecosystem service-based approach to minimize the impact of agricultural expansion. We evaluate these approaches by linking changes in service supply to potential impacts on achievement of specific SDG goals and targets.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01985
JournalEcological Applications
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 1 2019


  • Sustainable Development Goals
  • Volta basin
  • ecosystem services
  • landscape management
  • modeling
  • trade-offs

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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