Although changes in ecosystems in response to climate and land-use change are known to have implications for the provision of different environmental and ecosystem services, quantifying the economic value of some of these services can be problematic and has not been widely attempted. Here, we used a simplified raster remote sensing model based on MODIS data across South Africa for five different time slices for the period 2001–2019. The aims of the study were to quantify the economic changes in ecosystem services due to land degradation and land-cover changes based on areal values (in USD ha−1
) for ecosystem services reported in the literature. Results show progressive and systematic changes in land-cover classes across different regions of South Africa for the time period of analysis, which are attributed to climate change. Total ecosystem service values for South Africa change somewhat over time as a result of land-use change, but for 2019 this calculated value is USD 437 billion, which is ~125% of GDP. This is the first estimation of ecosystem service value made for South Africa at the national scale. In detail, changes in land cover over time within each of the nine constituent provinces in South Africa mean that ecosystem service values also change regionally. There is a clear disparity between the provinces with the greatest ecosystem service values when compared to their populations and contribution to GDP. This highlights the potential for untapped ecosystem services to be exploited as a tool for regional sustainable development.
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