Report: 4th Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference, Wageningen

Recently, I attended the 4th ESP (Ecosystem Services Partnership) Conference, 04-07 October 2011 in Wageningen, the Netherlands, where I presented my research paper entitled, ‘Crop evapo-transpiration services – is it a major hydrological ecosystem services?’ The conference theme was ‘Ecosystem Services – Integrating Science and Practice’. Attending this conference was very relevant to my career as I am currently doing my research on freshwater ecosystem services of the Himalayas and the Indo-Gangetic basin. Our presentation was on crop evapo-transpiration based ecosystem services of the Indo-Gangetic basin, where water resource is precious and widely used in crop production process. I presented my research paper in workshop 01 - ‘Quantifying, mapping, and modelling of ecosystem services'.

Our conference paper was published in a book of abstracts (please see, We also intend to publish our research findings in an international journal in near future.

As we are working on hydrological ecosystem services of one of the world’s major river basins (i.e. Indo-gangetic basin), our research was directly relevant to the 4th ESP International Conference and its key aims. I believe, sharing research outcomes in such an international gathering helps to better understand the hydrological ecosystem services provided by the region. There is a huge potential for research opportunities in the hydrological ecosystem services sector, and the conference was an excellent place for sharing our research experience. We thought the conference was also providing a good opportunity to share our modelling/mapping tools and indeed our research findings on a major hydrological ecosystem services.

 The conference was equally relevant in showing the practical steps being taken towards conservation management at local level. A wide range of ecosystem services-related sessions took place including quantitative assessment, valuation, institutional arrangement and planning / management were useful for the better understanding of different aspects of ecosystem services. The conference has provided me with a mixture of theory and practice on how to understand different ecosystem services and their value in real world conservation management. By presenting an oral presentation in the ESP conference, I was not only contributing in ecosystem service realted research but also developing my own research capability.

Finally, I am very grateful to the ialeUK for its Student Conference Travel Award (SCTA) support. 

Title: Crop evapo-transpiration services – is it a major hydrological ecosystem services?


The crop evapo-transpiration (ET) process consumes a huge amount of freshwater (i.e. trading water for biomass), thereby producing crops for humanity’s survival. Research on freshwater ecosystem services is mostly focusing on runoff-based ecosystem services, but so far, there is little attention given to ET-based freshwater ecosystem services and their actual beneficiaries. In this research, we have assessed the ET rates and distributions of croplands across the Indo-gangetic basin, so we can understand the level of water use in croplands in the basin. The study has used WaterWorld-Policy Support System (WW-PSS), an advanced hydrological model to estimate ET. We have used the globally best available data sources of bio-physical, environmental and crop related database available at 1km spatial resolution. To estimate actual ET, the WW-PSS tool has used actual vegetation coverage and water availability along with solar radiation, topographic features and cloud frequency of the region. From the modelling outcomes, it is clear that the actual ET scenario of the lowland flood plains, where almost 80% of landmass is extensively used for the crop cultivation, is relatively higher with an average of 1000 mm/yr. The model results show the only other vegetation coverage (i.e. forestland) has higher ET (up to 1250 mm/yr) ratio than the agricultural landmass. It confirms the greater use of freshwater in crop production process. As a result, there might be less availability of freshwater in downstream areas for other hydrological services such as hydropower production and water supply to cities. The modelling outcomes confirm that there is a considerable amount of freshwater use in croplands. We come to the conclusion that the crop products are carrying valuable freshwater ecosystem services to actual beneficiaries. Thus, the crop related ET should be considered as an important hydrological ecosystem services to people within and beyond of the basins.

Key words: Croplands, evapo-transpiration, hydrological ecosystem services, Indo-gangetic basin, beneficiaries

Authors: B. Pandeya1 and M. Mulligan1

Environmental Monitoring and Modelling Research Group, King’s College London, United Kingdom