Watershed Management for Ecosystem Services in Human Dominated Landscapes of the Neotropics

Watershed Management for Ecosystem Services in Human Dominated Landscapes of the Neotropics


As a compilation of research and case-studies throughout the neotropics, this paper highlights the intricate connection between humans and ecological systems. It goes beyond describing direct use, such as NTFP and timber, but also the more indirect connections provided through ecosystem services, like clean water, soil fertility, aesthetics, and so on. While these services are provided by a range of ecosystems, the authors here focus specifically on watersheds since they are critical in the Neotropics. The paper is divided into 7 chapters, the first six of which describe watershed dynamics while the last one highlights five distinct case studies in Latin America. 

Conclusions & Takeaways

The authors stress that ecosystem management, and thus the services they provide, depend heavily on socio-economic drivers and governance. Therefore, in order to better understand the current state of management and make suggestions for further improvement, it is important to go beyond the ecological and also seek to understand the social, political, and economic. The editor provides the following guidelines for managing watersheds in the neotropics based on the full report: invest in education and capacity building about watershed function and the benefits they provide, incorporate sound scientific data and decision-making mapping into management, incorporate integrated and participatory planning tools, and provide financing and incentives while enforcing laws for effective watershed stewardship.


Hall, Jefferson S., Vanessa Kirn, & Estrella Yanguas-Fernández. (2015) "Managing watersheds for ecosystem services in the steepland neotropics." Washington, United States: Interamerican Development Bank. doi 10: 0000163.


  • Smithsonnian Tropical Research Institute