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Trade-Offs between Ecosystem Services in a Mountain Region

Simon Briner, ETH Zurich, Agri-Food and Agri-Environmental Economics Group, Department of Environmental Systems Science
Robert Huber, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
Peter Bebi, WSL Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research SLF
Ché Elkin, Forest Ecology, Department of Environmental Systems Science, ETH Zurich
Dirk R. Schmatz, Swiss Federal Institute for Forest, Snow and Landscape Research WSL
Adrienne Grêt-Regamey, Spatial and Landscape Development, Departement Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering, ETH Zurich


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Mountain ecosystems provide a broad range of ecosystem services (ES). Trade-offs between different ES are an important aspect in the assessment of future sustainable land-use. Management of ES in mountain regions must confront the challenges of spatial and temporal heterogeneity, and interaction with structural changes in agriculture and forestry. Using a social-ecological modeling framework, we assess the relationships between forest and agricultural ES in a mountain region in Switzerland. Based on the concept of jointness in production, we evaluated trade-offs and synergies among food provision, biodiversity conservation, carbon sequestration, and protection against natural hazards. Results show that increasing the provision of a focal ES in a mountain region may result in alternating trade-offs and synergies, depending on the interaction of economic and technological interdependencies. Thus, management schemes aiming to increase the provision of one focal ES have to consider not only the technological or biological nature of interrelationships, but also the economic interdependencies among different ES. Trade-offs and synergies from these interactions strongly depend on the underlying structural and environmental conditions driven by socioeconomic and climatic developments.

Key words

agriculture; climate change; ecosystem services; forestry; land-use change; model-based scenario analysis; mountainous regions; trade-offs

Copyright © 2013 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087