Beyond food production: Ecosystem services provided by home gardens. A case study in Vall Fosca, Catalan Pyrenees, Northeastern Spain
Interest in ecosystem services provided by agroecosystems has grown over the last decades with research focusing on the type of environmental, economic and social benefits delivered by agroecosystems. Researchers suggest that, besides the provisioning of food, fuel, and fiber, agroecosystems provide habitat, cultural, and regulating services. One type of agroecosystem that remains relatively unexplored from an ecosystem service perspective is home gardens. In this paper, we aim at advancing the understanding of the value of home gardens by conducting an assessment of home gardens ecosystem services. For the empirical analysis we use home gardens in Vall Fosca (Catalan Pyrenees). We identify and characterize the most important ecosystem services provided by home gardens, and conduct a valuation of the social importance of home garden ecosystem services. The methodological approach for this work included an in-depth literature review, participant observation, semi-structured interviews, a valuation questionnaire, and a scientific panel consultation. We identified and characterized 19 ecosystem functions and related services. According to our informants, home gardens provide a large set of ecosystem services, being cultural services the category most valued. We found that the most important ecosystem services provided by home gardens differ from those provided by other types of agroecosystems.
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