Forests support human economy and well-being with multiple ecosystem services. In this paper, the ecosystem services generated in a mountainous forest area in North Italy were assessed in biophysical and monetary units. GIS was used to analyze and visualize the distribution and provision of different services.
The assessment of ecosystem services in biophysical units was an important step to investigate ecosystem functions and actual service flows supporting socio-ecological systems. The Total Economic Value (TEV) of all the investigated ecosystem services was about 33 M€/yr, corresponding to 820 €/ha/yr. The provisioning services represented 40% of the TEV while the regulating and cultural services were 49% and 11%. The service of hydrogeological protection, particularly important in areas characterized by a high risk of avalanches and landslides, showed a major importance among the regulating services (81%) and within the TEV (40%).
Results from mapping ecosystem services were useful in identifying and visualizing priority areas for different services, as well as exploring trade-offs and synergies between services. Finally, we argue that while a biophysical perspective can ensure a solid accounting base, a comprehensive economic valuation of all categories of forest ecosystem services can facilitate communication of their importance to policy makers.
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