Water Your Own Grass: Land-use Policies for a Sustainable Future
The protection of Ecosystem Services, i.e., the benefits provided to society by ecosystems is critical for human welfare. However, the capacity to provide these services has been severely impacted by society. Given their public good features, markets either do not exist or do not work properly. Therefore, researchers and policymakers recognize the relevance of economic valuation as a fundamental tool for the internalization of the benefits provided by ecosystem services. In this research, we estimate the economic value of land-based ecosystem services for mainland Portugal. The results show that while water demand has been increasing, supply is decreasing in the Alentejo and Algarve regions. These are also the regions where Food Supply shows increased economic value namely due to irrigation-based cultures. On the other hand, Montado, the traditional Iberian agro-silvopastoral land cover, plays an important role in ensuring the quality of water courses, preventing erosion, and sequestering carbon, thus adding to the benefits they typically deliver. Hence, in the context of climate change and considering local populations’ welfare, sustainable land-use policies in these regions should be designed to preserve the natural landscape, implementing programs, such as payment for ecosystem services (PES).
João Seixo, PhD student in Economics
Seixo, João and Vieira da Silva, Carina and S. Campos, Felipe and Cabral, Pedro and Nunes, Luis Catela and Cunha-e-Sa, Maria Antonieta, The Economic Value of Land-based Ecosystem Services in Portugal: A Spatially Explicit Approach (January 19, 2023). Nova SBE Working Paper Series No. 656, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4330672