WET-EcoServices Version 2: A revised ecosystem services assessment technique, and its application to selected wetland and riparian areas

  • DC Kotze Centre for Water Resources Research, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg, Private Bag X01, Scottsville, 3209, South Africa
  • DM Macfarlane Eco-Pulse Environmental Consulting Services, 26 Mallory Road, Hilton, 3245, South Africa
  • RJ Edwards Eco-Pulse Environmental Consulting Services, 26 Mallory Road, Hilton, 3245, South Africa
  • B Madikizela Water Research Commission, Private Bag X03, Gezina, 0031, South Africa
Keywords: wetland, riparian area, rapid assessment, ecosystem services supply and demand


A rapid assessment technique, termed WET-EcoServices, was developed 10 years ago to help assess the ecosystem services that individual wetland hydrogeomorphic units supply.  The technique requires the assessor to consider and score a suite of indicators (e.g., hydraulic roughness of the vegetation) which are then used to rate the ability of the wetland to provide 16 different ecosystem services. WET-EcoServices has become well entrenched in the South African context, with wetland specialists routinely using the technique to inform development planning, whilst it has also been used extensively in the wetland rehabilitation context. The technique has recently been revised, including the following key changes: (i) the technique is now more explicit in terms of distinguishing both ecosystem services’ supply and the demand for all ecosystem services assessed; (ii) the technique has been expanded to include non-wetland riparian areas; (iii) several of the indicators have been refined or replaced with indicators more relevant or appropriate for informing the rating of the ecosystem service or for which information is more readily available at a national level; and (iv) the algorithms used to integrate scores for the relevant indicators have been comprehensively refined so as to better account for the relative importance of the respective indicators. The aim of this paper is to present an overview of Version 2 of the technique and its underlying approach and then to demonstrate its application to 6 selected cases representing contrasting contexts, with a particular focus on the graphical representation of ecosystem service supply and demand for each case.  Some of the key emphases and approaches applied by WET-EcoServices are then discussed in relation to other published techniques widely used for assessing wetland ecosystem services.  After reflecting on some key limitations of WET-EcoServices, the paper concludes with recommendations on the technique’s potential contributions to operationalizing key broad imperatives of government. 

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Technical note