Total income and ecosystem service sustainability index: Accounting applications to holm oak dehesa case study in Andalusia-Spain | Land Portal

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Date of publication: 
September 2020
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This research develops the novel concept of an economic ecosystem service sustainability index from the perspective of total income theory, and presents its empirical application at the spatial unit scale of the agroforestry farm. This paper compares the results accrued from applying the refined standard System of National Accounts (rSNA) and the authors’ Agroforestry Accounting System (AAS). The AAS extends the rSNA to capture economic activities without manufactured production costs and substitutes the production cost valuations for exchange values revealed/stated by consumer willingness to pay for consumption of final products without market prices, the aim being to provide more comprehensive figures for total and environmental incomes of the agroforestry farms. Both accounting frameworks are applied to a case study of sixteen large, non-industrial, privately-owned holm oak dehesas (agroforestry farms) in Andalusia-Spain. This dehesa application provides estimates for the economic ecosystem service, total income factorial allocation, total capital and economic ecosystem service sustainability index for the aggregate and individual economic activities of the dehesa, distributed between accounts for the farmer and government institutional sector economic activities. The AAS explicit measurements of the hidden rSNA ecosystem services and environmental incomes of the dehesa allow us to further our scientific understanding of the current and future contributions of environmental income from nature to the total income of society as well as to provide information to the policy makers so that action can be taken to mitigate the depletion and degradation of environmental assets. This dehesa application reveals that environmental income measured by the AAS accounts for 67 % of total income in 2010. The dehesa AAS and rSNA ecosystem services share 34 % and 26 % of total product consumptions, respectively. Coupled with the AAS economic ecosystem service sustainability index of 0.5 and the rSNA economic ecosystem service sustainability index of 0.2, these figures indicate total product over-consumption in 2010. The dehesa case study shows that the AAS ecosystem services and environmental incomes are 2.5 and 8.4 times higher than those of the rSNA, respectively. Once the theoretic robustness of non-market product consumption simulated transaction value is accepted, as in the AAS methodology, the expected official economic ecosystem accounting framework will mainly depend on its ongoing standardization by the United Nations Statistical Division and implementation by individual governments. Thus, the challenge of standardizing and implementing such a framework is more closely linked to governmental policy measures than to the current scientific weakness of non-market product consumption valuations.

Authors and Publishers

Author(s), editor(s), contributor(s): 

Campos, Pablo
Álvarez, Alejandro
Mesa, Bruno
Oviedo, José L.
Ovando, Paola
Caparrós, Alejandro


Land Use Policy is an international and interdisciplinary journal concerned with the social, economic, political, legal, physical and planning aspects of urban and rural land use. It provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and information from the diverse range of disciplines and interest groups which must be combined to formulate effective land use policies.

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