A New Framework of 17 Hydrological Ecosystem Services (HESS17) for Supporting River Basin Planning and Environmental Monitoring

Lan Thanh Ha*, Wim G. M. Bastiaanssen, Gijs W. H. Simons, Ate Poortinga

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Hydrological ecosystem services (HESS) describe the benefits of water for multiple purposes with an emphasis on environmental values. The value of HESS is often not realized because primary benefits (e.g., food production, water withdrawals) get the most attention. Secondary benefits such as water storage, purification or midday temperature cooling are often overlooked. This results in an incorrect evaluation of beneficial water usage in urban and rural resettlements and misunderstandings when land use changes are introduced. The objective of this paper is to propose a standard list of 17 HESS indicators that are in line with the policy and philosophy of the Consultative Group of International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and that are measurable with earth observation technologies in conjunction with GIS and hydrological models. The HESS17 framework considered indicators that can be directly related to water flows, water fluxes and water stocks; they have a natural characteristic with minimal anthropogenic influence and must be quantifiable by means of earth observation models in combination with GIS and hydrological models. The introduction of a HESS framework is less meaningful without proper quantification procedures in place. Because of the widely diverging management options, the role of water should be categorized as (i) consumptive use (i.e., evapotranspiration and dry matter production) and (ii) non-consumptive use (stream flow, recharge, water storage). Governments and responsible agencies for integrated water management should recognize the need to include HESS17 in water allocation policies, water foot-printing, water accounting, transboundary water management, food security purposes and spatial land-use planning processes. The proposed HESS17 framework and associated methods can be used to evaluate land, soil and water conservation programs. This paper presents a framework that is non-exhaustive but can be realistically computed and applicable across spatial scales.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6182
Number of pages26
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • hydrological ecosystemservices
  • remote sensing
  • ecosystem services framework
  • ecosystem services accounting

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