A report from the European Comfor-Sudoe project (COMplex FORests), led by the National Museum of Natural Sciences (MNCN-CSIC) of the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), proposes various techniques for the monetary and non-monetary valuation of the benefits of the complex forests for rural and urban societies in Spain, France and Portugal. This compilation, open access and prepared by Ecoacsa Reserva de Biodiversidad, one of the partners of the international consortium, aims to serve as a guide for those responsible for managing the territory in their decision-making. The report is accompanied by a list of 68 ecosystem services or benefits that these forests provide.
“Complex forests, those in which several different species coexist or in which a single species predominates whose examples are at different stages of development, present greater resilience to threats such as climate change or the decrease in biodiversity. Furthermore, they are capable of providing more and better ecosystem services ”, he says. Andrés Bravo-Oviedo, researcher at the MNCN-CSIC and coordinator of the Comfor-Sudoe project.
Along with the report, a decision tree has been developed, also open access. “It is a tool to support the work of political leaders and other actors involved in the management of the territory. It serves as a guide in selecting the method for economically valuing the ecosystem benefits or services provided by complex forests. It is essential information to make better decisions and more aimed at promoting sustainable management “, he explains. David alvarez, Executive Director of Ecoacsa. “The great value of the multiple benefits that forests bring is often invisible from an economic point of view to the managers of the territory. For this reason, it is essential that they have accessible tools based on scientific evidence that allow them to assess the relevant role that forests play in local economic and social development ”, Álvarez points out.
Both documents, the report and the decision tree, are the result of a consultation with experts and an extensive bibliographic review of 84 scientific articles carried out in Spain, France and Portugal on natural assets (natural resources that provide goods or services during time, such as biomass or water) and forest ecosystem services (CO2 capture2, erosion control, maintenance of biodiversity, supply of mushrooms and berries, regulation of water quality and climate). Other experiences developed in Germany, Denmark, Scotland, the United States, Finland, England, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Peru, Poland and Switzerland have also been taken into account.
The results show that, of the 68 benefits or services provided by the complex forest ecosystems of the region of southwestern Europe -Spain, France and Portugal-, 29 are provisioning, 16 are cultural and 23 are regulation and maintenance. Depending on its suitability for each type of ecosystem service and the availability of data, each benefit has a more appropriate method to calculate its economic value, including those that estimate demand (for example, market prices, contingent value or choice experiment) and those that do not estimate demand (such as replacement cost, opportunity cost or avoided costs).
The Comfor-Sudoe project
The objective of Comfor-Sudoe is to promote complex forests (mixed and irregular) as well as the planting of varied species as an adaptation strategy. Through obtaining resilient forest masses, it is intended to respond to climate change and the decrease in biodiversity.
The project, which was launched in November 2020 and has a budget of 1.3 million euros in financing from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), seeks to promote synergies between Spain, France and Portugal and strengthen a network that unites transnationally, research and innovation in specific sectors of southwestern Europe. It is about promoting smart and sustainable growth by promoting research, development, innovation and technology transfer.