Toward Decision-Making Support: Valuation and Mapping of New Management Scenarios for Tunisian Cork Oak Forests
National Institute of Research in Rural Engineering, Water and Forests, University of Carthage, B.P. 10, Ariana 2080, Tunisia
National Institute of Agronomy of Tunis, University of Carthage, 43 Avenue Charles Nicolle, Tunis 1082, Tunisia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(2), 197; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11020197
Received: 31 October 2019 / Revised: 25 December 2019 / Accepted: 18 January 2020 / Published: 11 February 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Non-Timber Forest Products and Bioeconomy: Management, Value Chains, Challenges and Opportunities)
Forest ecosystems are an important anthropogenic pillar to human wellbeing, providing a multitude of ecosystem services. In Mediterranean countries, where climate change effects are exponentially increasing, the value of the forest ecosystem services is even higher and their preservation is more crucial. However, the biophysical and economic value of such services is usually not observable due to their non-marketable characteristics, leading to their underestimation by decision-makers. This paper aims to guide decision-making through a set of new management scenarios based on ecosystem services’ values and their spatial distribution. It is a cumulative multidisciplinary study based on biophysical models results, economically valued and implemented using the geographic information system (GIS) to analyze spatial data. The investigation was based on a biophysical and economic valuation of cork, grazing, carbon sequestration and sediment retention as a selection of ecosystem services provided by cork oak forest (Ain Snoussi, Tunisia). The valuation was made for the actual situation and two management scenarios (density decrease and afforestation of the shrub land), with emphasis on their spatial distribution as a basis to new management. The total economic value (TEV) of the investigated services provided by Ain Snoussi forest (3787 ha) was €0.55 million/year corresponding to €194/ha/year. The assessment of two different scenarios based on the land cover changes showed that the afforestation scenario provided the highest TEV with €0.68 million/year and an average of €217/ha, while the density decrease scenario provided €0.54 million/year and an average of €191/ha. Such results may orient decision-makers about the impact new management may have, however they should be applied with caution and wariness due to the importance of the spatial dimension in this study.