Integrating biophysical and economic evaluations of ecosystem services

Tiina Häyhä focuses on the supply and spatial distribution of ecosystem services (ES) in a forest area in the Italian Alps, which was the main theme of her YSSP project.

T. Häyhä

T. Häyhä

Introduction

Forests provide a wide range of ecosystem services (ES), from timber and non-wood products (provisioning services) to carbon sequestration, hydrogeological protection (regulating services), and recreation and aesthetic experiences (cultural services). Non-market forest ecosystem services tend to be undervalued, partly because of the lack of a market price and partly because there is not a clear understanding of the vital support that  ES give to socioeconomic systems. As ecosystem services are interlinked, the optimization of one typology of services can negatively affect other services. Consequently, forest management choices include trade-offs. This study focused on the supply and spatial distribution of ES in a forest area in the Italian Alps. The supply of ES under alternate management regimes was analyzed to assess the possible trade-offs or synergies among different ecosystem services.

Methodology

ES were evaluated both in biophysical and economic units. Spatial data on land cover and forest biomass growth and harvest rates together with data from field interviews were used. GIS was used to spatially analyze and visualize the distribution and provisioning of ecosystem services. Scenario analysis based on three different forest management schemes was used to estimate the impact of different forestry practices on ES.

Results

The total supply and economic value of the ES was calculated and mapped. Provisioning services accounted for one-third of the total economic value while regulating services resulted in almost 60% of the total. The scenario analysis showed that there is a trade-off between increased exploitation of timber and bio-energy versus non-wood forest products, regulating, and cultural services.

Figure 1. Map of the supply of a bundle of forest ecosystem services, Fiemme and Fassa Valleys, North Italy.



Conclusions

The outcomes of this study highlight the need for integrating biophysical and economic evaluation, especially to assess and value regulating ecosystem services to better recognize their importance. Mapping ES can serve as an important tool to identify priority areas and to better communicate and visualize information on ecosystem services. 

Note

Tiina Häyä, of Parthenope University of Naples, Italy, is a Finnish citizen. She was funded by IIASA's Finnish National Member Organization and worked in the Advanced Systems Analysis (ASA) Program during the YSSP.

Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.


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Last edited: 19 August 2015

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