Ecosystem services within agricultural landscapes: farmers' perceptions

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Smith, HF & Sullivan, CA 2014, 'Ecosystem services within agricultural landscapes: farmers' perceptions', Ecological Economics, vol. 98, pp. 72-80.

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A two way relationship exists between agricultural production and ecosystem services where farmers act as significant contributors to as well as potential detractors to societal well-being. To date, there has been a limited amount of research investigating farmers' values through the ecosystem services concept, particularly in Australia. In this paper we address this research gap through focusing on farmers' perceptions of four different attributes towards 12 ecosystem services. Results from our survey indicate that farmers place a high value on the importance of all ecosystem services, whilst perceiving most of them to be moderately manageable. The farmers identified a variety of threats towards ecosystem services that were mostly agricultural in origin, whilst perceiving themselves to be moderately vulnerable to the loss of services. To overcome any potential loss of services, market-based instruments such as schemes paying for ecosystem services can be applied. These economic tools do appear to be needed, as the farmers in this study directly identified the economic cost of maintaining native habitat as a threat. Through more explicit understanding of the social dimension of the two-way relationship between ecosystem services and agricultural production, natural resource policies to overcome this potential negative cycle can be implemented more effectively.