Ecosystem services (ES) (goods and services) represent the outputs of natural systems from which people can have benefits. Evaluation of the benefits resulting from ES of inland waters or the benefits, which are lost when the necessary measures are not implemented, is one of the methods of evaluating the external costs of environmental damage - environmental and resource costs. Evaluation of ES is based on the CICES classification v. 4.3, which defines provision, regulation/ maintenance and cultural services. In the assessment of ES also enters groundwater, although in comparison with surface waters in lesser extent. At present, the evaluation is performed at the level of sub-basins of the Slovak Republic. In this paper, evaluation of selected ES is presented. Use of evaluation in practice is also discussed.
The primary aim of the article is to obtain an overview of benefits from the actual use of inland water ecosystem services (ESSs) in Slovakia. The evaluation, which includes both surface water and groundwater, is primarily focused on demand side. Methods for assessing the benefits of the most prevalent ESSs, designated by Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES classification) v. 4.3, are described and discussed. The evaluation is performed at the level of 10 sub-basins to which available data are allocated. In the absence of necessary data or the impossibility of allocating them to sub-basins, the benefit from the use of some ESSs is estimated at the level of whole Slovak territory. The use of ESSs valuation in practice, especially with regard to water protection of surface water and groundwater, is discussed. The evaluation of benefits from ESSs of inland waters in Slovakia so far does not allow direct use of obtained results for proposal of measures within river basin management plans as suggested by several authors. Main reason is the input data availability and quality. At the present time, the significance of the ESSs evaluation may rather lie in the awareness of the value that human society gains from the use of inland waters. It becomes more evident that increase in environmental awareness alone is not sufficient in terms of the protection of ecosystems and their services. To achieve unambiguous and lasting improvement in this area, it is necessary to address the deeper causes, closely related to human thinking and behaviour.
The risk of diffuse pollution of groundwater by nitrogen substances from agricultural land is perceived as a result of the interaction of groundwater vulnerability (determined by the characteristics of the environment overlying groundwater in relation to water transport or soil solution) and loading of overlying environment by nitrogen. Index of groundwater vulnerability was assessed on the basis of four parameters, namely, the amount of effective rainfall in the period from October to March, the capacity of soil to accumulate water, the average depth of the groundwater table and the permeability of the rock environment. Assessment of the index of loading of overlying environment by nitrogen was based on two parameters, namely, nitrogen balance and crop cover on agricultural land in the winter half on districts level in 2012, which corresponds with current state of the load. The resulting risk of groundwater pollution by nitrogen was expressed by the formula counting with the transformed values of groundwater vulnerability index and the index of loading of overlying environment by nitrogen. From practical point of view, the above mentioned indexes, as well as the subsequent risk of diffuse groundwater pollution, were spatially expressed via three associated categories. Based on the evaluation of relevant parameters, 5.18% of agricultural land falls into the category of very high and high risk, 42.20% in the medium risk category and 52.62% in the category of low and very low risk of diffuse pollution of groundwater by nitrogen from agricultural land.