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Worldwide water managers and policy makers are faced by the increasing demands for limited and scarce water resources, particularly in semi-arid ecosystems. This study assesses water regulation service in semi-arid ecosystems of the southeastern Iberian Peninsula. Comparisons between the supply-demand sides were analyzed across different landscape units. We mapped the biophysical supply as the potential groundwater recharged by aquifers and water supplies from reservoirs. The social demand was focused on an analysis of water consumed or used for irrigation and the stakeholder's perceptions regarding water regulation importance and vulnerability. Results show that some landscape units are able to maintain and conserve water regulation service when the volume of recharge water by aquifers and the water supply from reservoirs is greater than its consumption (e.g. rural landscape units). However, we also found potential social conflicts in landscape units where water consumption and use is much greater than the water recharge and supply. This particularly occurs in the non-protected littoral areas with the highest water consumption and where water is perceived as a non-important and vulnerable natural resource. Overall, our results emphasized the importance of assessing ecosystem services from both supply to demand sides, for identifying social conflicts and potential trade-offs, and to provide practical information about how to integrate the ecosystem service research into landscape management and planning.
groundwater recharge; over-exploitation; social perception; trade-offs; water consumption; water supply; ecosystem services; fresh-water; spain; preferences; southeast; framework; almeria; policy