From the article:
Multifunctional agroecosystems are the result of complex adaptive interactions between humans and nature where trade-offs between food production and other ecosystem services are key. The objective of this study was to explore the social preferences for ecosystem services, and the associated willingness to pay, in three multifunctional agroecosystem in Europe (Mediterranean, Atlantic, Alpine) under alternative agrienvironmental policy scenarios. The authors use the same methodology (a choice experiment including equivalent attributes and levels) to rank and estimate the economic value of provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural ecosystem services. The scenarios (current situation, abandonment and enhanced management) are defined in biophysical terms to elucidate changing relations between social perception and level of delivery of ecosystem services. The authors derive some lessons. i) Value of ES: biodiversity and regulating ecosystem services always produce welfare gains; people, however, perceive trade-offs between delivery of agricultural landscapes and quality food products. Nevertheless, preferences are heterogeneous and vary across regions, scenarios and ES. ii) Policymaking: society’s willingness to pay for the delivery of ecosystem service exceeds largely the current level of public support. Moreover, further abandonment and intensification of agriculture is clearly rejected by the public. iii) Methodological: monetary valuation is context dependent and extrapolation of economic values can be misleading.
- We value ecosystem services in three agroecosystems and three policy scenarios.
- Higher levels of regulating services and biodiversity always produce welfare gains.
- People perceive trade-offs between agricultural landscapes and quality products.
- The WTP for the provision of ES exceeded the current level of public support.
- Further abandonment and intensification of agriculture is rejected by the public.