Economic evaluation of the ecosystem services of irrigated agrosystems managed by the Consorzi di Bonifica in Veneto

  • Regione Veneto
  • Italy
  • 2022-2024

The irrigation of the Veneto plain is provided by large water derivations and canals managed by the Consorzi di Bonifica (reclamation consortiums) of the region. At the same time, these canals provide a set of ecosystem services (ES) that are of public interest such as groundwater recharge, water purification, habitat provision, green and blue landscapes and outdoor recreation. When evaluated from an economical point of view, these services can be compared with those of irrigation or hydropower generation – which are apparently more important as they are part of the traditional market – and can be considered in policy decisions and guide actions to maintain and increase these types of facilities, so as to ensure their long-term ability to provide services that are crucial to the well-being of the community.

The solution

Since ecosystem services are often not traded in the market, they lack a price to express their economic and social value, even though their importance for the quality of the environment and the well-being of people’s lives is universally recognised. This is the reason why it is becoming increasingly important to estimate their value in order to implement policies to maintain their availability, also in view of the challenges imposed by climate change.

In line with these goals, Etifor will support the Veneto Region in demonstrating the importance of the ecosystem services provided by the irrigated agrosystems managed by the 10 reclamation consortiums in Veneto. In view of the upcoming renewal of derivation concessions, the application of regulations on ecological flow and the challenge of adapting to the climate crisis, this process will have the double aim of: 

  • increasing the knowledge related to the socio-economic benefits of ecosystem services provided by irrigated agrosystems, through monetary evaluation of services with and without a market;
  • enhancing the results obtained and raising awareness among organisations and citizens about the knowledge acquired.

Our contribution

Etifor will be in charge of:

  • defining a suitable evaluation methodology for all identified ecosystem services. Therefore, cost-based methodologies will be used – such as the replacement cost, where it is assumed that the value of the ES is equivalent to the cost of realising an alternative solution of equal effectiveness – and demand-based methodologies – such as the Choice Experiment, where the aim is to identify the willingness to pay of certain individuals to maintain the current flow of benefits with respect to a hypothetical scenario.
  • assessing all identified ecosystem services in economic terms (data collection activities, analysis and verification); 
  • identifying communication and dissemination actions for the relevant results.

Photo credits: ANBI Veneto