The importance of ecosystem services in coastal agricultural landscapes: Case study from the Costa Brava, Catalonia

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Agricultural landscapes are increasingly valued by society for their potential to provide multiple benefits and values, such as landscape beauty or habitat for biodiversity. Yet, Mediterranean agricultural landscapes are still following a pattern of changes under the narrow focus of increased agricultural productivity, while other benefits and values are depleted. In this study, we assess the importance and multiple benefits Mediterranean agricultural landscapes provide using the ecosystem services approach. Our research aims at assessing different social perceptions concerning the importance of coastal agrarian landscapes for human wellbeing. Using a case study from a coastal agricultural landscape at the Costa Brava, Girona (Spain), we combined non-monetary and monetary methods to assess social perception and the willingness to pay for ecosystem services' delivery. Our study involved different social groups including local residents and tourists visiting the area. Results show that provisioning services and non-productive ecosystem services, such as supporting and cultural services are seen as almost equally important and trade-offs emerge between their prioritizations. A strong preference for cultural ecosystem services, especially aesthetic value (non-monetary valuation) and environmental education (monetary valuation), can be observed. Our results suggest that different preferences are influenced by the respondents' place of residency and place of visit ​
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