|Agriculture, Ecosystem & Environment, v. 154:78-84
Viglizzo, E.F., Paruelo, J.M., Laterra, P. and Jobbágy, E.G.
Regular economic activity takes into account ecosystem goods and services that are exchanged for money in the market (e.g. food, fibre, water) but normally ignores more intangible ones left away from market transactions (e.g. soil protection, climate regulation, disturbance control, habitat provision), even in cases when they become irreversibly impaired. However, because of the increasing pressure brought by the public opinion, the attempts to assign an economic, yet volatile, valuation to ecosystems assets has multiplied in recent years, and policy communities are increasingly compelled to incorporate them into land use planning initiatives. Based on contributions to this special issue, we discuss how the perspective of ecosystem services can contribute to develop sound land-use policies and planning actions. Beyond valuation, several practical implications emerge from the contributions. A myriad of potential tradeoffs must be analyzed because since the provision of some services can be accompanied by the emergence of unexpected dis-services. For example, carbon accumulation based on increasing net primary production rates may simultaneously cut water yields and, hence, water provision. Various existing mechanisms ranging from state-controlled to market-controlled for rewarding the provision of ecosystem services are analyzed and discussed in terms of their capacity to connect nature to land-use planning.