Orchard natural capital supplying valuable ecosystem services
New Zealand's orchards and vineyards comprise interconnected ecological infrastructures that underpin the production of premium fruit and wine. Orchards and vineyards are valuable natural-capital assets. From these natural-capital stocks flow ecosystem services that are valuable not only to the growers but also to the wider community. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment classified ecosystem services into four typologies: the supporting services of soil formation and nutrient cycling, the provisioning service of food, feed, fuel and fibre production; the regulating services that buffer and filter water, carbon and gases; plus the cultural services of heritage, recreation and spiritual well-being. Horticulture generates NZ$ 3.65 billion of export revenues for New Zealand annually and sustains a NZ$ 3 billion domestic economy. All of this provisioning service comes from just 120,000 ha of orchards and vineyards. Certainly there is valuable bounty coming from the orchards and vineyards of New Zealand's regional fruit bowls. But the three other types of ecosystem services of supporting services, regulating services and cultural services are also very valuable - even though no one pays for them directly. We show how investment of carbon into the soil provides many and diverse valuable services. Quantification and valuing these services can be used to provide eco-credentials to meet the sustainability protocols that global supermarket chains are demanding for carbon and water footprints. We conclude by showing how an approach based on ecosystem services can be used in judicial hearings to protect peri-urban orchards from encroachment by city expansion.
Clothier, B.E., Green, S.R., Müller, K., Gentile, R.M., Mason, K., Herath, I. and Holmes, A. (2016). Orchard natural capital supplying valuable ecosystem services. Acta Hortic. 1130, 1-10
ecological economics, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, soil carbon, supporting services, regulating services, cultural services, carbon and water footprints