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The influence of land cover data on farm-scale valuations of natural capital


  • Burke, Thomas
  • Whyatt, J. Duncan
  • Rowland, Clare
  • Blackburn, G. Alan
  • Abbatt, Jon


The valuation of natural capital within individual farms could inform environmentally beneficial land use change and form the basis of agricultural subsidy schemes based on the provision of ecosystem services. Land cover extents can be used in a benefit transfer approach to produce monetary valuations of natural capital rapidly and at low cost. However, the methodology has not before been used within individual farms, and the impact of land cover data characteristics on the accuracy of valuations is uncertain. Here, we apply the approach to five UK farms of contrasting size, configuration and farming style, using three widely available land cover products. Results show that the land cover product used has a substantial impact on valuations, with differences of up to 58%, and the magnitude of this effect varies considerably according to the landscape structure of the farm. At most sites, valuation differences are driven by the extent of woodland recorded in the landscape, with higher resolution land cover products incorporating larger amounts of woodland through inclusion of smaller patches, leading to higher overall valuations. Integrating more accurate land cover data and accounting for the condition, configuration and location of natural capital has potential to improve the accuracy of valuations.

Suggested Citation

  • Burke, Thomas & Whyatt, J. Duncan & Rowland, Clare & Blackburn, G. Alan & Abbatt, Jon, 2020. "The influence of land cover data on farm-scale valuations of natural capital," Ecosystem Services, Elsevier, vol. 42(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecoser:v:42:y:2020:i:c:s2212041620300073
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoser.2020.101065

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