ReWaLe - Quantification and regionalisation of economic values of forest ecosystem services in Germany
Demands of forest ecosystem services by the society are increasing in many fields, no matter if productive, protective, or recreational functions are concerned. As a result, regionally varying trade-offs are to be expected. This fact is acknowledged by the Forest Strategy 2020 of the Federal German Government. The Strategy asks for applying the economic approach of the TEEB study to the ecosystem services of German forests and their biological diversity, for quantifying these values and finally, for integrating them into decision processes.
Against this background, the general aim of ReWaLe is the quantification and regionalization of economic values of forest ecosystem services. More specific, this implies the valuation of the societal benefits of productive, protective and recreational functions in monetary terms. It also implies the analysis of the regional variation of the interdependencies among these benefits.
The outcome of the data analyses under ReWaLe will be used for a modeling approach.The resulting model will be applied for estimating the potentials for optimizing the benefits from different forest functions as part of sustainable and multifunctional forest management. Moreover, instruments of federal forest politics will be revealed for exhausting the optimisation potentials. The focus will lie on Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) within the framework of commercial initiatives as well as on public promotion.
In line with the Forest Strategy 2020 ReWaLe will contribute to integrating economic valuation of forest ecosystem services into commercial decision processes. It will also contribute to mitigating conflicts between the commercial use of biological resources on the one hand and the conservation of biological diversity on the other hand. This will facilitate the balancing of commercial forestry against social and ecological aspects. In this way the project will also account for the demand of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for quantifying and mapping ecosystem services until the year 2020.
Of high interest for the scientific community will be the up-date of an existing meta-data base providing access to studies on forest ecosystem services until today. This data base will be made available to the public online via the website of the Thünen Institute. The subsequent maintenance of both the model and the data base will be taken over by the institute’s permanent staff.
ReWaLe requires a multitude of economic and ecological data for the monetary valuation of forest ecosystem services as well as for the modelling and the scenario analyses. Parts of these data have to be gained for the project by means of population surveys. Predominantly, however, ReWaLe can rely on existing results of previous studies of the institute as well as on external results of market studies, forest inventories, forest health assessments, and ecological monitoring programmes. A geographic information system (GIS) developed as part of the project is used for the consolidation and analysis of the data. It also supports the valuation studies and the interpretation of results. A second database contains relevant results published in the scientific literature. It is accessible in the web.
The relationships between the socioeconomic and ecological framework conditions on the one hand and the monetary values of forest ecosystem services on the other hand are described by means of mathematical equations. These equations constitute the core of the model. In the scenario analyses the explanatory variables of the equations are modified for each county of Germany reflecting various options for political decisions. The resulting economic values of the various forest ecosystem services are mapped county by county.
First results indicate a relationship between the current percentage of forest area of a county and the willingness of its population to pay for an additional percent point of this share. Obvious examples are those counties in the vicinity of the coastlines of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. They rank among the most sparsely wooded regions of Germany and their population would be willing to pay more than 10 Euro per capita for an additional percent point of the share of forest area. A similarly high willingness to pay is observed – aside from a small number of exceptions – in the sparsely wooded regions between the cities of Magdeburg and Chemnitz. Correspondingly, the aggregated willingness to pay (i.e. the amount per capita extrapolated to the total of the population) of a county is highest in sparsely wooded agglomerations. For instance, several counties of the Rhine-Ruhr District show an aggregated willingness to pay of more than two million Euros for an additional percent point of the forest share. Vice versa, the respective values are lowest (zero to 500.000 Euros) in densely wooded regions with low population density, such as Eifel, Hunsrück, Taunus, Westerwald and Rothaar Mountains.
The sparsely wooded agglomerations also contain those counties with the highest aggregated willingness to pay for forest visits. For instance, the aggregated willingness to pay for an unlimited number of forest visits within one year amounts to more than 110 million Euros per year in many counties of the Rhein-Ruhr District. In contrast, that value ranges below two and a half million Euros in the Thuringian Forest.
With amounts between 42 and 54 Euros per person and year, the individual willingness to pay for a slight increase of forest biodiversity varies only slightly throughout Germany and is several times as high as the respective amount for an increase of the share of forest area by one percent point.
1.2016 - 11.2019
Project funding number: 22022614
Funding program: FNR
Project status: ongoing