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Revista de Biología Tropical

On-line version ISSN 0034-7744Print version ISSN 0034-7744


ORRANTIA ALBIZU, Oreina; ORTEGA HIDALGO, M. Mercedes; QUIROS MADRIGAL, Olman  and  LOIDI ARREGUI, Javier. Servicios ambientales del bosque: ensayo en una cuenca atlántica europea con base en la experiencia de Centroamérica. Rev. biol. trop [online]. 2008, vol.56, n.4, pp.2087-2098. ISSN 0034-7744.

Environmental services of the forest: an essay in an European Atlantic river basin based on a Central American experience. A Conservation Interest Index (CI) was designed to numerically assess the natural quality or value of a given terrestrial area. This CI has been applied along the Golako River Watershed (Biosphere Reserve, Basque Country, Spain). The area, although benefiting from some protection, is strongly influenced by human activities (forestry and cattle breeding). The CI is based on both available cartographic information about vegetation and fieldwork, the later needed to provide estimations for the various descriptors included in this index: in this way, a particular vegetation fragment received a final score on a scale from 0 to 1 000. A set of 9 Vegetation Units has been defined to analyze the current vegetation profile and, a ten plot (500 x 500 m) uniformly distributed sampling design has been implemented. Landscape homogenization is high where main land use relies on timbering, contrasting with the more heterogeneous and fragmented profile related to rural activities. At a height of more than 150 m forest appears to be dominant while human occupation becomes patchy, whereas abruptness restraints farms to locations below 100 m. Concerning the index performance, gradual differences have been displayed by the forest, which appears as the only vegetation unit attaining values above 500 (50% in the index scale), mature forest ranking highest (860), followed closely by the riparian forest. We have developed a formula to translate environmental value into economic benefit to promote conservation work at private property level, imitating the initial work undergone in Central American countries, where environmental services are rewarded irrespective of their conservation status. Rev. Biol. Trop. 56 (4): 2087-2098. Epub 2008 December 12.

Keywords : Environmental services; quantitative vegetation assessment; conservation interest index; Basque Country; Reserva de la biosfera de Urdaibai.

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