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The economic importance

of ecological services
provided by associated
biodiversity in agricultural
Satellite Event CGRFA
FAO, Rome
9 November 2004
What are the issues?

Importance of associated biodiversity in agricultural systems

• Managed and unmanaged associated diversity
• Examples: beneficial predators, pollinators, soil organisms
• Enhance awareness of roles & functions and capacity to manage

The concept of biodiversity values

• CBD (Rio de Janeiro,1992):“the forgotten environmental problem”

• The direct or indirect, economic and non-economic interest a
given species or ecosystem may represent for human populations
(actual and future) 

Need to quantify the importance of associated biodiversity

• High species richness of associated biodiversity
• Valuation of functional importance (social & economic benefits)

Still lack of consideration in decision-making and policy agenda

• Need to mainstream at national level and in global processes
Ecosystem goods and services
provided by associated diversity
Goods: food, fresh water, fuel wood, fibre, GR, biochemicals
Services: the benefits people obtain from regulation of ecosystem
processes (climate, disease, hydrological regime, detoxification),
support services (soil formation, nutrient cycling, pollination) as well
as other cultural benefits.
These biologically generated services are largely considered to be
“free”; rarely included in analysis of economic benefits to agriculture.
This is the case of Associated biodiversity in agricultural systems
However it can and should be valued – i.e. the benefits quantified.
Examples of:
• Pollination is fundamental in agriculture (enables plant reproduction and
food production for humans and animals (fruits and seeds;
improved seed and fruit quality and quantity)
• Soil organisms provide a range of unique ecosystem services:
nutrient cycling, decomposition, soil structure, C sequestration,
pest control, ....
Ecological economics:
What is the total economic value of associated biodiversity
in agricultural systems?

TEV = [Use values] + [Option values] + [Non-use values]

Use (instrumental) values include direct and indirect economic values
Non-use values include existence and strategic values

Total economic value (TEV)

Present use values Existence and Option values

strategic values Future products:
- Protecting - Food resources
Direct economic Indirect economic - Genetic
values values - Maintaining culture of resources
- Food resources - Ecosystem services local people - Medicines
- Species for - Recreation & tourism - Continuing ecological
specialised markets - Education and evolutionary
(dDelicatessen) processes

e s ti m a tion
ti e s o fe conomic
c ul
Increas ing diffi After Primack (2000)
Value of pollination
• Many species provide pollination services - primarily bees, but also
butterflies, moths, bats, birds, etc.
• Many important food crops rely on animal pollination, including
fruits and vegetables and fodder. The decline of pollinator
populations impacts negatively on crop production (+ food security)
Three types of Values
• as an intrinsic ecosystem service
– conservation/maintenance of surrounding natural ecosystems
– specific plant/pollinator relationships
• in real terms - from increased agricultural yield
– improved quality and quantity (fruit set, seeds)
• in real terms, as “agricultural input”
– value against potential loss of pollination service
– costs of hand pollination (China) and hive rental (India)
Value of honeybee pollination
Estimates show that the benefit of using honeybees for
enhancing crops yields through cross pollination is much
higher than their role as produces of honey and beeswax
(Partap, 2002).
Estimated value of honeybee pollination (Apis mellifera) to crop

• US agriculture: US$ 14.6 billion (Morse & Calderone 2000).

• Canadian agriculture: CDN 1.2 billion (Winston & Scott 1984)
• EEC agriculture: US$ 3 billion (Williams, 1992).
• New Zealand agriculture: US$ 2.3 billion (Matheson and Schrader,
• China agriculture (four major crops - cotton, rapeseed, sunflower
and tea): US$ 0.7 billion. (Partpap, U. 2002)
Case studies : valuing pollination
• Hand pollination in China (Maoxian county in Hengduan Mountains of
China) – e.g. apples and pears.

• Provides employment & income generating opportunities to many people

during apple flowering season.

• Expensive, time consuming and highly unsustainable option for crop

pollination due to increasing labour scarcity and costs. A large part of
farmers’ income is used in managing pollination of their crop.

• Bee-keepers do not rent out their hives, even during the flowering
season, due to excessive use of pesticides

• Bees (Apis cerana or A. mellifera) used in India (Himachal
Pradesh in NW Himalayas) for apple pollination: fees for renting
bee colonies Indian rupees 800/- (US$ 16) per colony for two
weeks. (Partap, 98).
From Micro-
Soil Biodiversity
e.g. bacteria + fungi Micro & meso-fauna
nematodes to
acari & springtails

...Roots in the soil and

their interactions with Macro-fauna e.g. ants,
species above & below termites, earthworms
Consumptive & productive uses of soil biota
 Indirect uses for food provisioning
Direct uses for food

Fishing baits

Food for backyard animals

Edible ants (Atta sp.)

Manure piles for

compost production

Fire smoked « motto » Primack 2000 IBOY group

Productive and environmental benefits
Enhances Agricultural
Production: soil quality
and health and plant
Provides many
Ecosystem Services
• nutrient cycling
• regulates the dynamics of
soil organic matter
• soil C sequestration and
• reduced GHG emissions These services are essential
• modifies soil physical to the functioning of natural
structure and maintains water ecosystems AND an important
regimes resource for the sustainable
• enhances amount/efficiency management of agricultural
of plant nutrient acquisition systems (crops, pasture,
The use / instrumental values of soil biodiversity
 Indirect economic values: ecosystem services

Climate regulation
Ecosystem goods
C storage
and services
Nutrient cycling
Increasing spatial scale

Primary productivity
C stocks
OM turnover

Soil structure formation
OM dynamics

Increasing time scale

Decaëns & Jiménez, after Lavelle et al. 2004
Global Economic value of ES by soil biodiversity
Activity Associated biodiversity involved Economic
benefits (x
US$109 /yr)
Waste recycling Saprophytic, litter feeding invertebrates (detritivores), 760
fungi, bacteria, actinomycetes and other micro-organisms
Pollination Many pollinators may have edaphic phase in their 200
Biocontrol of pests Soil provide microhabitats for natural enemies of pest, soil 160
biota (e.g. mycorrhizas) contribute to host plant resistance
and plant pathogens control.
Bioremediation of Maintaining biodiversity in soils and water is imperative 121
chemicals to continued and improved effectiveness of bio-treatment.

Nitrogen fixation Biological nitrogen fixation by diazotroph bacteria 90

Soil formation Diverse soil biota facilitate soil formation, e.g. 25
earthworms, termites, fungi, etc.
Biotechnology Soils provide nearly half of the current economic benefit 6
of biotechnology related to agriculture: nitrogen fixing
bacteria, pharmaceutical industry, etc.
Other wild food For example mushrooms, earthworms, small arthropods 180
Total by Pimentel et al. 1997 1,542
Determining the services from soil biodiversity
Benefits of ecological functions performed by soil organisms

Soil biodiversity is extremely complex (not well understood), however based on

food web or functional domain approaches 4 main functional groups of soil
organisms may be proposed See interaction web below:

Aboveground Aboveground
herbivores predators

Litter and soil Litter
predators transformers
or engineers
Root properties
engineers Aggregate

Brussaard 1998
Other values of soil biodiversity
Direct use: Soil invertebrates used as food - high nutritional value
 32 Amazonian ethnic groups consume >100 soil invertebrate
species (Paoletti)
 Up to 60% of animal protein during rainy season for “Guahibos”
Amerindians of Venezuela

Option value: Potential to provide an economic benefit to

human society at some point in the future: For Soil biodiversity:
difficult to predict and not yet considered

Existence value: Linked with the concern of people for

wildlife conservation. Funds and conservation organisations
for charismatic “mega fauna” : unlikely for soil bugs, or
associated biodiversity in general

Willingness to Pay (WTP): Valuation method that does

not include the ecological function of a species
Scientific and educational value

 Journals or web sites for kids

 Identification books for

entomologists, etc
Management practices to enhance
values of soil biodiversity
Select & improve adapted leguminous varieties with associated
Rhizobium bacteria and inoculate for enhanced BNF 40-48 million
tons N/yr is fixed in agricultural crops and fields …
Reduce soil tillage (disturbance of soil fauna, compaction, loss of
porosity/channels, N release): reduce labour, energy, timeliness
Enhance soil cover: reduce soil temperature, enhance infiltration,
soil moisture and OM (roots & mulch): better germination, health
& yield
Enhance and vary organic matter supply: maintain pH, enhance
mycorrhizae and enhance availability P and micro-nutrients (often
limiting e.g. acid soils) and nutrient supply for many organisms
Rotations and mixes of annual and perennial species: varied
organisms, biocontrol e.g. nematodes; root biomass and SOM,
deep rooting –access to nutrients and moisture
Diversify habitats (buffers, contour strips, field borders, change
land use and sequence varied niches and organisms
 Multiple values of soil bota and pollinators → strong justification
for increased recognition of their functions and support

How much associated biodiversity is enough to maintain

ecosystem functioning in agricultural systems?
 Can we identify “strategically important” species or
functional groups (local to international levels)
Need to focus and prioritise work

 What tools and mechanisms are available / required to evaluate

and to promote due attention to the economic and social values of
associated biodiversity? Wider use of Case studies, key
indicators, cost/benefit analysis

 How to raise awareness and build capacity at all levels

(from users to policy makers) Enhance management and
valuation of services (provided/underutilised)