Exploring social preferences for ecosystem services of multifunctional agriculture across policy scenarios

Alberto Bernués*, Frode Alfnes, Morten Clemetsen, Lars Olav Eik, Georgia Faccioni, Maurizio Ramanzin, Raimon Ripoll-Bosch, Tamara Rodríguez-Ortega, Enrico Sturaro

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Multifunctional agroecosystems are the result of complex adaptive interactions between humans and nature where trade-offs between food production and other ecosystem services are key. Our objective is to explore the social preferences for ecosystem services, and the associated willingness to pay, in three multifunctional agroecosystem in Europe (Mediterranean, Atlantic, Alpine) under alternative agrienvironmental policy scenarios. We use the same methodology (a choice experiment including equivalent attributes and levels) to rank and estimate the economic value of provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural ecosystem services. We define the scenarios (current situation, abandonment and enhanced management) in biophysical terms to elucidate changing relations between social perception and level of delivery of ecosystem services. We derive some lessons. i) Value of ES: biodiversity and regulating ecosystem services always produce welfare gains; people, however, perceive trade-offs between delivery of agricultural landscapes and quality food products. Nevertheless, preferences are heterogeneous and vary across regions, scenarios and ES. ii) Policymaking: society's willingness to pay for the delivery of ecosystem service exceeds largely the current level of public support. Moreover, further abandonment and intensification of agriculture is clearly rejected by the public. iii) Methodological: monetary valuation is context dependent and extrapolation of economic values can be misleading.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101002
JournalEcosystem Services
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2019


  • Abandonment
  • Agrienvironmental policy
  • Economic values
  • Intensification
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Trade-offs

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