Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 1075–1088 | Cite as

Using ecosystem services valuation to measure the economic impacts of land-use changes on the Spanish Mediterranean coast (El Maresme, 1850–2010)

  • Jérôme DuprasEmail author
  • Lluìs Parcerisas
  • Jorge Brenner
Original Article


Over the last few decades, Mediterranean coastal areas have experienced profound land-use changes due mainly to urban sprawl and reforestation at the expense of former traditional agrarian mosaics and natural resources, such as beach areas or freshwaters streams. These changes have had severe negative consequences on the biodiversity and ecological state (i.e. function) of the territory. The overall objective of this study was to evaluate the economic impacts of these consequences on ecosystem services (ES). By reconstructing the landscape of El Maresme County (Barcelona Province, Spain) for three historical points in time (1850, 1954 and 2010), we were able to assess how these land-use changes have affected the total ecosystem value (TEV) by estimating the ES non-market and market values provided by each land-use through market prices and benefit transfer methods. Results show an important decrease in the value of TEV since the 1950s (23.6 million Euros per year) due to urban sprawl. Despite the major changes occurring between the 1850s and 1950s, non-market values did not alter very much due to the type of agricultural practices. Our results show the necessity to take into account the value of non-market ES when designing land planning policies, and especially those concerning beaches and coastal systems to fully integrate the contribution on natural systems into decision-making processes.


Spanish Mediterranean coast Land-use changes Ecosystem services valuation Benefit transfer analysis 



This work has been developed in the international project on Sustainable farm systems: long-term socio-ecological metabolism in western agriculture funded as a Partnership Grant by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. We would like to thank Mahbubul Alam, Jean-François Bissonnette, Bronwyn Rayfield, and Rebecca Tittler for their revisions, and two anonymous reviewers for their comments, which helped to improve the final version of the article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jérôme Dupras
    • 1
    Email author
  • Lluìs Parcerisas
    • 1
  • Jorge Brenner
    • 2
  1. 1.Institut des sciences de la forêt tempéréeUniversité du Québec en OutaouaisRiponCanada
  2. 2.The Nature ConservancyCorpus ChristiUSA

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