Valuation of ecosystem services by stakeholders operating at different levels: insights from the Portuguese cultural Montado landscape

Montado is a savannah-like cultural landscape characteristic of the western Iberian Peninsula that is of high ecological and socio-economic value. Montado sites provide a multitude of services including materials (mostly valuable cork), food for free-ranging livestock, agricultural products, game, and tourism. Several stakeholders operate at various levels in these systems, all of whom must be involved in assessments of the value of these ecosystem services. We used a series of participatory workshops at local and regional levels to assess the ecosystem services most valued by these stakeholders. We also evaluated their awareness of the threats to montado and their vision for its future provision of ecosystem services. As expected, among the 12 categories of ecosystem services we assessed, stakeholders valued “materials” most, confirming the importance of cork in this landscape. However, regulating services were also highly valued, revealing strong awareness among stakeholders about montado ecology. Cultural services were more highly valued at the local level, demonstrating that local stakeholders have a strong attachment to their farms. All stakeholders were particularly aware of the threat of climate change, but regional stakeholders had a more negative perception for the future. The greater optimism of local stakeholders may be due to their greater realism and/or emotional connections to their farms. Our findings demonstrate that stakeholders are receptive to climate mitigation measures, but corresponding policy should consider local differences in management and land-use patterns.

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