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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA
Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem Services

Key Objective:

To improve the management of critical ecosystem services through economic or financial incentives and better land uses and management in Latin America.

The Ecosystem Services Research Group aims to better understand the impacts and consequences of introducing ecosystem service management regimes in a landscape, and identify the most appropriate means by which we can ensure the optimal social, environmental and economic benefits. The Research Group seeks to analyze cases across the Andes and Amazon and extract lessons from policies that work for promoting the conservation and sustainable use of ecosystem services to the benefit of the poor. It also develops specific tools and methodologies for quantifying ecosystem service flows and valuing them to a variety of stakeholders across institutions and landscapes.

Background Information:

Big and reliable harvests depend upon ecosystem services. Fertile soils, ample water, and healthy biodiversity are beneficial inputs to agricultural production. These inputs also reflect the potential of ecosystem services.

DAPA research identifies viable opportunities and supports transactions in ecosystem services. Our research provides scientific basis to justify investments in better land and water management.

Degradation of natural resources is common in Latin America and throughout the world. Pressures to earn money now in the short-term prevent longer-term sustainable land management practices:  trees are cut, soils erode and water sources dry out.

Nevertheless, some people may be willing to help pay the costs of sustainable management practices. Carbon in vegetation and roots has value: avoiding soil erosion saves costs downstream, and communities and cities want reliable water. Farmers may be willing to change their practices if the incentives are right. Who would be willing to pay or provide incentives for protecting ecosystem services? What investments are required? How effective are the changes in land management/use? These are some of the questions that research in ecosystem services can answer.

Main thematic areas

  • Hydrological modelling for the quantification of water-related ecosystem services
  • Economic valuation of ecosystem services
  • Design of PES schemes
  • Measurement of impacts of soil and water conservation practices
  • Impacts of climate change and land use scenarios on water-related ES

Strategic focus and principles

  • Agriculture as provider of ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem services vulnerability to climate change
  • Improving methods of economic valuation of ecosystem services
  • Broadening the scope: from water-related ecosystem services to agro-biodiversity and carbon related services
  • Demand-driven research: Policy-makers (or their advisers) are our research next users
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