LUCI explores the capability of a landscape to provide a variety of ecosystem services, such as agricultural production, flood and diffuse pollutant mitigation, carbon sequestration, habitat provision etc. The model is a second generation extension and accompanying software implementation of the Polyscape framework.
The model was developed through work at Pontbren, exploring impacts of land-use on flooding. Landcover types providing mitigation from flash-flood risk and diffuse pollution through enhanced infiltration (e.g. woodlands and wetlands); these are mapped as providing a service. LUCI then simulates flow and nutrient accumulation over the landscape, with areas routing through these mitigating features mapped as “mitigated” i.e. not hydrologically connected to the stream. Hydrologically connected areas of the landscape with large accumulations of water or pollutants are mapped as having potential to benefit from changes inland cover or management which could provide mitigating services. Hydrological routing is also used to map annual flow and average loading and concentration of N and P at each point on the river network. For agricultural production and carbon, LUCI compares the services provided by the current utilisation of the landscape to estimates of its potential capability. For each service, the model then processes this data to identify areas where change might improve service provision, and where current service provision is good or lacks potential to improve. Trade-offs between outputs for the individual ecosystem services are modelled and mapped, with an option for the user to preferentially weight services of higher importance.