Pollination ecosystem services: A comprehensive review of economic values, research funding and policy actions

Abstract

Economic valuation of crop pollination services, including potential monetary losses in agricultural production induced by insufficient pollination, is a strategy to quantify the impacts of this critical ecosystem service on food production, food security and the global economy, and to drive policy actions. We examined how the economic valuation of crop pollination services has been investigated across the ecological and economics literature and review estimates of monetary values of crop pollination services, as well as the investments (research funding/grants) and policy actions associated with pollinators and pollination. We documented an increase in the number of economic valuation studies on pollination services in the last two decades, with a substantial growth over the last five years, which represented 54% of all publications. However, we emphasize that there is a marked lack of data on regionally important commercial crops that are essential for the food security of many millions of people, particularly in developing countries. Estimated global values of the crop pollination service, adjusted for inflation in March/2020, range widely from US$195 billion to ~US$387 (US$267–657) billion annually — due to methodology, input data and a historical increase in production costs of pollinator-dependent crops. There is an increasing trend over time in the values of crop pollination service estimates for the full set of main globally-grown crops, although estimates for specific crops are widely variable at local to regional scales. Research funding on pollination/pollinators is mainly in developed countries, which have published all the reviewed policy papers on the economic value of crop pollination services. Although the valuation of pollination services, and associated economics and policy remain embryonic areas of research, animal-mediated pollination is clearly a high-value environmental service, which greatly strengthens conservation arguments worldwide.

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Acknowledgments

RFA and RGP were supported by MSc and PhD studentships, respectively, granted by Coordenação de Aperfeiçoamento de Pessoal de Nível Superior (CAPES; #001). We thank PNPD/CAPES and the Fundação de Amparo à Ciência e Tecnologia do Estado de Pernambuco (FACEPE) for a postdoctoral fellowship awarded to OCN (APQ0789-2.05/16 and BCT–0208-2.05/17). AVL, MT and BFV were awarded with research productivity grants from the Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) for their research work. Data on Research funding/Grants and Policy documents were kindly provided by Digital Science’s Dimensions Platform (2018), an inter-linked research information system (https://app.dimensions.ai).

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Porto, R.G., de Almeida, R.F., Cruz-Neto, O. et al. Pollination ecosystem services: A comprehensive review of economic values, research funding and policy actions. Food Sec. 12, 1425–1442 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-020-01043-w

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Keywords

  • Animal-mediated pollination
  • Agriculture
  • Food security
  • Monetary values
  • Pollinator-dependent crops
  • Scientometrics