Valuing Ecosystem Services Provided by Pasture-Based Beef Farms in Alentejo, Portugal

This work aims to measure and value the ecosystem services of grasslands and croplands covered by pasture-based beef farms in Alentejo. It combines pixel-level data from the Portuguese Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystem Services study and farm-level data from 40 farms. Five ecosystem services were considered: soil protection, carbon sequestration, support to extensive animal production, plant food production and fiber production. Two different approaches for service quantification were used: an “average class” method and a “buffer” approach. Double counting issues were avoided by applying a specific methodology developed for this study. The results obtained were similar for both approaches in the case of grasslands, with an average value between 146 and 176 €/ha/year. For croplands, the average service value oscillated between 40 and 166 €/ha/year. Soil protection was the most valuable service, with over 90% of the total value. Extrapolating these results for the entire region, the five ecosystem services were estimated to be worth between 173 M€ (class method) and 223 M€ (buffer approach). These results suggest that pasture-based beef farms in Alentejo help to provide a significant number of ecosystem services with positive environmental effects that are currently not remunerated by the market.

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