ITTO Study: Economic Value of Coastal Ecosystem Services Exceeds that of Cattle Grazing
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A International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) study assesses the economic value of ecosystem services provided by mangroves, swamps and marshes, such as protection against storms, water regulation, biodiversity protection, carbon storage and serving as the basis for local fisheries.

Taken together, these values exceed by far the value that can be generated from agricultural activities when such ecosystems are converted to grassland for cattle grazing, the report finds.

The study aims to raise awareness among farmers and policy makers of the need to balance the development and preservation of ecosystems.

November 2016: A study resulting from a project supported by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) shows that the economic value of ecosystem services provided by the coastal flooded forests and wetlands in the Mexican state of Veracruz significantly exceeds the value generated by using the same land for grazing cattle.

The study assesses the economic value of ecosystem services provided by mangroves, swamps and marshes, such as protection against storms, water regulation, biodiversity protection, carbon storage and serving as the basis for local fisheries. Taken together, these values exceed by far the value that can be generated from agricultural activities when such ecosystems are converted to grassland for cattle grazing. The study concludes that the main challenge for protecting these valuable ecosystems is to enable landowners to participate in the values generated by the natural ecosystems as an incentive to improve forest conservation in the region.

The study was conducted under an ITTO-funded project aiming to quantitatively assess the economic values of the goods and services provided by various tropical and coastal forests in the Gulf of Mexico. The project seeks to provide scientific evidence of the value of ecosystem goods and services to raise awareness among policy makers, farmers and the general public of the importance of balancing development objectives with the benefits provided by natural ecosystems.

ITTO supports research and implementation projects in member countries that link policy development with action on the ground, including projects leading to direct improvements in the forest sector, or projects that improve human resources, capacity building and awareness raising. [ITTO Press release] [Servicios Ecosistémicos de las Selvas y Bosques Costeros de Veracruz (in Spanish)] [Project Website]

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