Mapping the value of ecosystem services: A case study from the Austrian Alps


  • Alessandro Paletto Council for Agricultural Research and Economics – Forest Monitoring and Planning (MPF), Piazza Monsignor Nicolini 6, 38123 Villazzano di Trento (Italy)
  • Clemens Geitner Institute of Geography, University of Innsbruck (Austria), Innrain 52f; 6020 Innsbruck
  • Gianluca Grilli Institute for Renewable Energy, European Academy of Bolzano (EURAC) and Department of Civil, Environmental and Mechanical Engineering, University of Trento, via Mesiano 77, 38123 Trento (Italy)
  • Richard Hastik Institute of Geography, University of Innsbruck (Austria), Innrain 52f; 6020 Innsbruck
  • Fabio Pastorella European Forest Institute (EFI) Project Center “MOUNTFOR”, Via E. Mach, 1 38010 San Michele A/A (Italy)
  • Laura Rodrìguez Garcìa Council for Agricultural Research and Economics – Forest Monitoring and Planning (MPF), Piazza Monsignor Nicolini 6, 38123 Villazzano di Trento (Italy)



provisioning services, regulating services, cultural services, economic valuation, meta-analysis, Benefit Transfer method, Alpine Region, Leiblachtal (Austria)


Ecosystem services (ES) are considered the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems sustain and fulfil human life. In the decision making process related to the natural resources management, two key-aspects must be taken into account: the economic value of the benefits provided by ES (provisioning, regulating and cultural services) and the spatial distribution of these benefits. The purpose of the paper is to develop a method aimed to capture the economic value of the benefits provided by ES, in order to support the decision makers in the natural resources management. ES are not homogeneous across landscapes nor in space. Consequently, gaining knowledge on the spatial distribution of the economic relevance of ES is a fundamental information to target management actions. This method was tested in a case study in the Austrian Alps (Leiblachtal area in Vorarlberg region), characterized by a high importance of forests and grasslands. The results show that the highest economic values could be achieved for the provisioning services with a range between 200 €/ha year and 1,400€/ha year. The regulating services have also important economic values, but strongly localized in specific areas (i.e. protective forests against natural hazards). The economic values of the cultural services are influenced by the preferences of tourists and varies between 5 €/ha year to 60 €/ha year. The method allowed us to reveal the spatial heterogeneity of provisioning, regulating and cultural ES, depending on the ecological characteristics of the site.


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Research article