2023
  • Non-ICIMOD publication

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The heterogeneity of ecosystem services across the riverine landscape of the Koshi river basin, Nepal

  • Sagar Ratna Bajracharya
  • Martin C. Thoms
  • Melissa Parsons
  • Summary

A foundational tenet of the ecosystem services concept is that they arise from biophysical processes. Riverine landscapes are process-response systems where river flow and geomorphology generate a heterogeneous physical template that influences ecological processes, suggesting that the supply of ecosystem services in riverine landscapes should be congruent with the character and heterogeneity of the physical template. In this study, we examine the congruency between the physical template (river functional process zones; FPZs) and the supply of river flow dependent ecosystem services from riverine landscapes of the Koshi River Basin, Nepal. The supply of ecosystem services was congruent with FPZs. Social factors were shown to mediate the use and value of ecosystem services between FPZs. Heterogeneity of the physical template interacts with place, social activity, and demography to influence the use and potential value of ecosystem services across the riverine landscape. These spatial patterns of greater use of some types of riverine ecosystem services in certain areas of the riverine landscape are indicative of a highly coupled agricultural or “green loop” social-ecological system (SES) and show that maintaining riverine template heterogeneity is an important element of this green loop SES that supports 40 million people in the Koshi River Basin.