Landscape configuration is the primary driver of impacts on water quality associated with agricultural expansion

Corporations and other multinational institutions are increasingly looking to evaluate their innovation and procurement decisions over a range of environmental criteria, including impacts on ecosystem services according to the spatial configuration of activities on the landscape. We have developed a spatially explicit approach and modeled a hypothetical corporate supply chain decision representing contrasting patterns of land-use change in four regions of the globe. This illustrates the effect of introducing spatial considerations in the analysis of ecosystem services, specifically sediment retention. We explored a wide variety of contexts (Iowa, USA; Mato Grosso, Brazil; and Jiangxi and Heilongjiang in China) and these show that per-area representation of impacts based on the physical characterization of a region can be misleading.

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