Embracing complexity improves the assessment of environmental flows – One step beyond Gopal's (2016) framework

Dídac Jorda-Capdevila*, Beatriz Rodríguez-Labajos

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Gopal presented in 2016 a conceptual framework for incorporating ecosystem services into assessments of environmental flows. Quantifying the contribution of environmental flows to human wellbeing as Gopal proposes is indeed necessary. However, this alone does not address the challenges of their implementation or the problems caused by the lack of environmental flows. This paper offers a more comprehensive review of studies that used ecosystem services in the context of environmental flow management. Based on this we argue that it is important to embrace the complexity inherent in river-related benefits at all stages of assessment. The points to be considered that complement Gopal's framework are: 1) the importance of characterising ecosystem services from both biophysical and social perspectives, 2) the spatial and temporal heterogeneity in ecosystem services provision, and 3) the differences of power among stakeholder groups, which allow to impose false consensus in the allocation of the access to and benefits from ecosystem services.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)79-81
Number of pages3
JournalEcosystem Services
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Complexity
  • Decision-making
  • Environmental flows
  • River ecosystem services
  • Scale issues
  • Total economic value


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