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An Emergy-Based Approach to Assess and Valuate Ecosystem Services of Tropical Wetland Pastures in Brazil

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Document pages: 17 pages

Abstract: Wetland grasslands are important ecosystems for raising beef cattle, because they are highly productive and present forages with high quality. Most of these ecosystems are threatened by overgrazing or by being replaced by exotic pastures. Emergy synthesis approach was used to assess and value the services provided by native pastures wetland under three conservation status and also to compare them to exotic pastures on wetlands. The ecosystem service that was assessed included forage provision for calves production estimated from grazing capacity of cow with calf at the foot. Habitat maintenance to plant diversity and wild herbivores were also evaluated. The results showed that natural wetland pastures with better conservation status provided valuable ecosystem services and are highly renewable. Data envelopment analysis (DEA) showed that regardless of the conservation state of the natural pastures, wet native grasslands were more efficient than wet exotic grasslands. Replacing native pastures by exotic ones may reduce plant diversity and the renewability of the system. The proposed method has a holistic approach to pasture ecosystems and is able to help decision-makers to define sustainable management practices and to subsidise public policies when it comes to payments regarding ecosystem services.

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