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J Environ Manage. 2013 Nov 15;129:414-22. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2013.07.018. Epub 2013 Aug 30.

Evaluating the relative impact of climate and economic changes on forest and agricultural ecosystem services in mountain regions.

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  • 1Agri-food & Agri-environmental Economics Group, ETH Zürich, Sonneggstrasse 33, 8092 Zürich, Switzerland. Electronic address: briners@ethz.ch.

Abstract

Provisioning of ecosystem services (ES) in mountainous regions is predicted to be influenced by i) the direct biophysical impacts of climate change, ii) climate mediated land use change, and iii) socioeconomic driven changes in land use. The relative importance and the spatial distribution of these factors on forest and agricultural derived ES, however, is unclear, making the implementation of ES management schemes difficult. Using an integrated economic-ecological modeling framework, we evaluated the impact of these driving forces on the provision of forest and agricultural ES in a mountain region of southern Switzerland. Results imply that forest ES will be strongly influenced by the direct impact of climate change, but that changes in land use will have a comparatively small impact. The simulation of direct impacts of climate change affects forest ES at all elevations, while land use changes can only be found at high elevations. In contrast, changes to agricultural ES were found to be primarily due to shifts in economic conditions that alter land use and land management. The direct influence of climate change on agriculture is only predicted to be substantial at high elevations, while socioeconomic driven shifts in land use are projected to affect agricultural ES at all elevations. Our simulation results suggest that policy schemes designed to mitigate the negative impact of climate change on forests should focus on suitable adaptive management plans, accelerating adaptation processes for currently forested areas. To maintain provision of agricultural ES policy needs to focus on economic conditions rather than on supporting adaptation to new climate.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

KEYWORDS:

Bio-economic modeling; Climate change impact; Ecosystem services; Land use change

PMID:
23995509
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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