We aim to drive a new concept, Socio-Ecosystem Functional Types (SEFTs), defined as “patches of the land surface that share both similar dynamics of matter and energy exchanges between the biota and the physical environment, and similar socioeconomic and cultural patterns and dynamics”. SEFTs will provide a new framework to integrate the functional characterization of biophysical and human processes of socio-ecological systems.

SEFTs are a novel top-down approach to socio-ecosystem functions that have enormous potential for many applications including:

1) Earth-system models, land-surface processes, climate models.

2) Assessments of ecosystem services supply and demand, functional diversity, global change effects, adaptive capacity and socioecological resilience.

SEFTs offer a new land classification scheme that synthesizes the spatiotemporal variability of key biophysical and social descriptors related to ecosystem services supply and demand. More than synthetic maps, SEFTs are analytical tools where each class is parameterized in objective variables or parameters of the socio-ecosystem. Thanks to the develop of a common protocol, SEFTs will be comparable across regions, years and spatial scales. This opens an straightforward way to reveal driving forces between the biophysical and human dynamics, to track the role of people in Earth System, and to evaluate sustainability in the Anthropocene. From the technical perspective, SEFTs have the potential for being used by the public and private sectors in land-use planning, environmental impact assessment, and ecosystem services accounting. The introduction of the SEFT concept and framework will produce a global impact on science, policy, and environmental organizations.  

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