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Journal of Agriculture Food and Development

Journal of Agriculture Food and Development - Volume 2

Non-Market Ecosystem Services of Agricultural Land and Priorities Towards a More Sustainable Agriculture in Italy

Published on: 09 March 2016

Pages: 23-31

Mattias Gaglio1, Vassilis Aschonitis1, Elena Gissi2, Giuseppe Castaldelli1 and Elisa-Anna Fano1

1Department of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, University of Ferrara, Ferrara, Italy and 2Universita IUAV di Venezia, Department of Design and Planning in Complex Environments, Venice, Italy

Abstract: Ecosystems provide a range of services, commonly called Ecosystem Services (ESs), which are of fundamental importance to human well-being, health, livelihoods, and survival. One of the largest and most productiveecosystems is agricultural land. Agro-Ecosystems provide a range of services directly linked to the market (e.g. food and raw materials production) but also many others of high ecological value, which have an indirect economical contribution in the GDP (non-market ESs). These non-market services are not usually taken into account in the development of agricultural management strategies while their contribution is reduced due to non-sustainable agricultural practices. The aim of the study is to assess the potential economic contribution of the non-market services at national, regional, and provincial level in Italy and to propose a simplified index-based method for setting priorities at different scales of administration units for the implementation of sustainable agricultural practices (SAPs). The results of the study showed that the potential non-market value of agro-ecosystem services (AESs) in Italy can reach ~46.2 billion USD$2007. This estimate shows that non-market AESs can play an important role in the national GDP if SAPs are followed. Finally, a priority ranking scheme for the implementation of SAPs was proposed at regional and provincial level which can be a valuable decision support tool for promoting sustainable agriculture policies.

Keywords: Ecosystem services, Agricultural land, Non-market services, Priority index.

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