The use of services from agricultural landscapes by different economic actors leads to multifaceted and often multi-staged socio-economic benefits. The provision of private and public-good-type services in agricultural landscapes has direct monetary and non-monetary benefits: For example, as regards provisioning services, the production of food, feed and raw materials in agricultural landscapes leads to income and jobs for the producing sector. Likewise, as regards cultural or regulating services, e.g. the quality of the air, the landscapes potential to create buffers against natural hazards, or the beauty of a landscape, directly enhances the personal well-being of the local population or tourists.
Moreover, the use of particularly public good-type services from landscapes often creates indirect benefits – for local agriculture as well as for the overall regional economy: Such benefits can arise in line with tourism and recreation opportunities, opportunities for the marketing of regional products or in line with businesses and residential housing being attracted to the region. Socio-economic benefits can take the form of e.g. employment and income opportunities, the creation of value added, the enhancement of investments in a region or also in form of impacts on population levels in rural areas (in- and outmigration). To give some examples, e.g. the beauty of a landscape can be used to support marketing concepts of regional speciality products or the landscapes’ function of moderating extreme events, or again even the beauty of a landscape, can lead to the establishment of businesses in a region or the development of a tourism industry in special areas.
The benefits of the direct and indirect use of services are origin and subject to a variety of multi-staged loop-, feedback- and multiplier effects, which can have further economic and ecological consequences and therefore "second-order" benefits. For example, economic activities directly linked to the use of landscape services can influence or alter other economic activities, by developing the regional income side due to job creation or by developing the supplier side due to enhanced demand for certain first-stage products or even landscape services itself.
Empirical Case Study Evidence
A variety of ad-hoc studies in the CLAIM project give evidence to socioeconomic benefits generated by the use of landscape services. As it is one of the main objectives in the CLAIM project to explain the extent to which public good-type landscape services contribute to the development and competitiveness of rural regions, a special focus in the CLAIM project lies on the assessment of socio-economic benefits downstream the use of public good-type services:
The results of a case study in Italy show, that cultural public good-type services, namely landscape attractiveness, are inputs for economic activities such as agritourism offering landscape‐related services (e.g. food service, typical products, recreation activities). The study shows that in this way landscape supports the number of jobs and value added of farms.
A case study in Poland shows that the presence of the most typical landscape element in the region (fields, forests, shelterbelts, and water reservoirs) and the related landscape services (food provisioning, protection and regulation services, aesthetic-cultural values and habitat supporting) strongly influence agricultural productivity, the maintenance and creation of employment, the opportunities for tourism and recreation and the biodiversity of the region. It was found, that all landscape elements in consideration have a positive influence on regional competiveness and the potential of agricultural production.
A monetary choice experiment of the Spanish ad-hoc study, gives strong evidence that the presence of specific landscape elements increases touristic demand and hold the potential for creating second order socio-economic effects (visitor's expenditures).
Also an expert survey in Austria made obvious that local landscape is perceived to have an influence on a variety of social and economic factors of competitiveness. Here, the strongest impacts of landscape are assigned to “soft” competitiveness factors, such as the wellbeing of inhabitants and the maintenance of the cultural heritage, rather than on “hard” economic factors such as “job-creation”, “demography”, “infrastructural development” or “local investments”. The only high “economic” impact of landscape is awarded to its potential to enhance the marketing opportunities of regional products.
Again a case study from Poland, modelling the influence of landscape elements on farm performance, gives strong evidence for the economic importance of specific landscape elements on agricultural performance (Win-Win scenario). CAP scenarios in the study, which assume a removal of the landscape elements “shelterbelts”, show the strong negative influence on the level of Net Farm Incomes. Even relatively small decreases of the share of high profit cash crops in the cropping structure, which are dependent on the existence of landscape element (shelterbelts), have a strong negative influence on the economic performance of farms in the case study area.
Conclusion & recommendations
- Private as well as public good-type landscape services provide socio-economic benefits that foster regional competitiveness.
- High landscape attractiveness can give an impulse for the enhanced use of public good-type landscape services such as recreational activities (e.g. agritourism) and opportunities for adding value on provisional services (e.g. local products).
- Especially public good-type landscape services are still perceived to provide mainly soft competitiveness factors, while it becomes obvious that also public good type services have economic socio-economic benefits such as job creation and the enhancement of value added for agriculture.
- Raising awareness about landscape as an economic asset may drive landscape valorisation mechanisms and further develop consumers’ appreciation.
- Intensive food production, scale enlargement and the reduction of landscape elements might diminish the potential of landscape to offer other especially public good-type landscape services, negatively influencing private activities such as agritourism.
- On the contrary, the attractiveness of landscape and high value of public goods could affect food production.