Spatial distribution of ecosystem services values supplied by forests and grasslands: case study from the Austrian Alps
Garcia Rodriguez L
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Ecosystem services (ES) are considered the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems sustain and fulfil human life. In the decision making process related to the natural resources management, two key-aspects must be taken into account: the economic value of the benefits provided by ES (provisioning, regulating and cultural services) and the spatial distribution of these benefits. The purpose of the paper is to develop a method aimed to capture the economic value of the benefits provided by ES, in order to support the decision makers in the natural resources management. ES are not homogeneous across landscapes nor in space. Consequently, gaining knowledge on the spatial distribution of the economic relevance of ES is a fundamental information to target management actions. This method was tested in a case study in the Austrian Alps (Leiblachtal area in Vorarlberg region), characterized by a high importance of forests and grasslands. The results show that the highest economic values could be achieved for the provisioning services with a range between 200 €/ha year and 1,400€/ha year. The regulating services have also important economic values, but strongly localized in specific areas (i.e. protective forests against natural hazards). The economic values of the cultural services are influenced by the preferences of tourists and varies between 5 €/ha year to 60 €/ha year. The method allowed us to reveal the spatial heterogeneity of provisioning, regulating and cultural ES, depending on the ecological characteristics of the site.