How we provided a landscape valuation, and brought economic development in harmony with the development with natural capital
Together with TEEB we calculated the value of ecosystem services for three types of land use in the Maasai Steppe. The study was used to inform the trade-offs that policymakers face concerning the land conversion in the Maasai Steppe. Results accentuate the challenge to develop forms of agriculture that can co-exist with pastoralism and that can maintain higher soil carbon stocks to halt land degradation and maintain the numerous benefits for local communities over time.
Occasion of the study
The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) strives to contribute to the long-term sustainability of food for all. One of their initiatives is called the Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food (TEEBAgFood) . TEEBAgFood identifies the value of ecosystems and biodiversity in economic terms. The Maasai steppe is one of the regions with the highest concentration of wildlife in Tanzania. In the past 40 years, agricultural land cover has been expanding rapidly owing to both inward migrations from other regions in Tanzania, and traditional nomadic local populations settling down to establish farms in the region. This transition is influencing the landscape of the region on several levels. Policy makers face a critical trade-off regarding this land conversion in the Maasai Steppe. Expanding sedentary agriculture may contribute to meeting immediate food needs but causes a shift in the region’s landscape, and thus changes in key ecosystem benefits. These changes affect both local populations and the global community.
Description and key results
To inform the trade-offs that policymakers face, in a coalition of experts, True Priced helped TEEB to investigate the projected values of different land conversion scenarios over time. In this study, the value of ecosystem services was calculated for three types of land use: rangeland, agricultural land and national parks. Three different scenarios of possible futures were developed in relation to land-use change:
1. Business as usual expansion of agriculture, leading to the conversion of all land available for
farming within ten years (HI scenario);
2. Expansion of agriculture at half the speed of business as usual (MID scenario);
3. Lower land conversion rate with further conversion being halted within 20 years, below critical
thresholds for ecosystem functioning (LOW scenario).
The first analysed time horizon in this study was 0-20 years, when land use is assumed to be changed. Results show that livestock keeping in rangelands and crop production are the two main sources of ecosystem value in the Maasai Steppe; in Year 0 (today) they account respectively for an estimated 31 and 27 million USD per year, or 28% and 30% of the total annual ecosystem benefits in the region. Quantifying ecosystem creation per hectare in Year 0, we find that using land for agriculture generates the highest ecosystem benefit value from natural capital, with ecosystem benefits above US$73/ha, as opposed to US$52/ha for national parks and US$18/ha for pastoralist rangelands. When we consider the whole Maasai region, rangelands supply the most ecosystem services because of their huge area.
Advantages and next steps
The range of ecosystem services assessed in this study is partial, as some of the benefits of pastoralism have been left unquantified (the preservation of cultural heritage; the maintenance of social ties, traditions and household resilience; and biodiversity conservation that does not accrue tourist revenue). Furthermore, this study has valued ecosystem services, but not assessed total food production. However, the trade-off between higher food production on farmland on the one hand versus the existence of rangeland, with its high ecosystem values, appears clear. The challenge is to develop forms of agriculture that can co-exist with pastoralism and that can maintain higher soil carbon stocks to halt land degradation and maintain the numerous benefits for local communities over time.
TEEBAgFood needs to bring such evidence to bear on decision-making and present options for capturing the values of ecosystems and biodiversity.
Curious to read the complete landscape valuation work of the Maasai Steppe? Read it in the TEEB for Agriculture & Food Interim Report.
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