New Zealand Journal of Ecology (2020) 44(2): 3412

Economic valuation of the ecosystem services provided by Pāmu Landcorp farms

Research Article
Clint Cameron 1*
Joanna McQueen-Watton 1
William Shaw 1
  1. Wildland Consultants, 99 Sala Street, PO Box 7137, Rotorua 3042, New Zealand
*  Corresponding author

Consideration of the value provided by ecosystem services is becoming increasingly integrated into decision-making processes including, for instance, both the New Zealand Government’s recently adopted Living Standards Framework and the proposed Genuine Progress Indicator. However, to encourage wider uptake of the concept, there is a need to value and assess the provision of ecosystem services at scales relevant to local landowners and land managers in New Zealand. The current study was initiated by Pāmu Landcorp Farming and addresses this issue by assessing the economic value provided by ecosystem services across 126 of the Pāmu Landcorp farm units. These comprise 190 388 hectares of land. Properties include ‘productive’ operational units (e.g. pastoral, horticultural, and exotic forestry land) and ‘non-productive’ areas (e.g. indigenous scrub, forest, and wetlands, including land retired from production), both categories of which provide an array of important ecosystem services which have not been systematically valued to date. Individual Pāmu Landcorp land parcels on each farm were assigned a broader ecosystem classification based on the framework developed by Patterson and Cole (2013). Ecosystems were scaled to reflect current spatial extent using the New Zealand Land Cover Database V4.1 (2015), and ecosystem service values adjusted to net present value and divided by area to provide results in 2019 NZD $ hectare−1 year−1. Findings reveal that while Pāmu Landcorp’s ‘nonproductive’ land comprises only 16.2% of total area, the net value of ecosystem services provided per hectare per year are 29.2% higher than productive land ($1388 and $1961 for ‘productive’ and ‘non-productive’ land, respectively). Additionally, while wetlands comprise only 0.8% of total land area, under this analysis they provide an estimated 8% of net total economic value, reflective of the higher values attributed to this ecosystem ($14 208 ha−1 yr−1). The valuation framework developed in the current study has the potential for wider uptake by landowners, land managers, iwi, the New Zealand farming industry, and regional and district councils, and helps to inform decision-making when considering the costs and benefits of activities which affect the provision of ecosystem services.