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A general framework for the quantification and valuation of ecosystem services of tree-based intercropping systems

Abstract

This study provides the first complete framework for the valuation of ecosystem services of agroforestry and uses a tree-based intercropping (TBI) system in southern Québec, Canada, as a case study. Ten ecosystem services were estimated, all of which were of interest and directly applicable to most agricultural systems worldwide: nutrient mineralization, water quality, soil quality, pollination, biological control, air quality, windbreak, timber provisioning, agriculture provisioning, and climate regulation. A mix of mathematical models for the quantification and economic valuation of various ecosystem services were used. The results revealed a total annual margin of $2,645 ha−1 y−1 (averaged over 40 years). The economic value of combined non-market services was $1,634 ha−1 y−1, which was higher than the value of marketable products (i.e. timber and agricultural products). An analysis of the present value suggested that agricultural products ranked highest among the ecosystem services taken singularly, followed by water quality, air quality, climate regulation, and soil quality maintenance. Total economic value of all ecosystem services for the rotation period was $54,782 ha−1, only one third of which was contributed by agricultural products. Although the total value of the ecosystem services provided by TBI was high, farmers only benefited from agricultural and timber products. Thus, government incentives are needed to interest farmers in adopting practices that benefit society as a whole.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    At the time of calculation the exchange rate between Canadian dollars and USD was very close to 1. For example the average exchange rates of 1USD in January 2013 were between 0.9919 and 1.0081 CAN$.

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Acknowledgments

Funding supports from Consortium on Regional Climatology and Adaptation to Climate Change (OURANOS), through Fonds vert Québec, and from Fonds de recherche du Québec - Nature et technologies (FQRNT), are gratefully acknowledged.

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Correspondence to Mahbubul Alam.

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Alam, M., Olivier, A., Paquette, A. et al. A general framework for the quantification and valuation of ecosystem services of tree-based intercropping systems. Agroforest Syst 88, 679–691 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10457-014-9681-x

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Keywords

  • Economic valuation
  • Tree-based intercropping systems
  • Non-market benefits
  • Ecosystem services