Valuation of Ecosystem Services for the Identification of Metropolitan Ecological Structures: the Case of Cali, Colombia

M. Tabares-Mosquera, E. Zapata-Caldas, O. Buitrago-Bermúdez


The aim of this research was to assess–based on spatial analysis techniques and expert knowledge–the capacity of land covers to provide ecosystem services (ES) in the socioecological system (SES) “metropolitan area of influence of Cali”. In this manner, it was possible to identify the metropolitan ecological structure of said SES in order to establish a baseline from which its level of conservation or fragmentation can be identified in the future. The application of the methodology required the use of mixed research methods. In this regard, i) the SES area was defined from the combination of urban-functional and ecological-biophysical criteria; ii) criteria were defined to establish the unit of analysis and the land cover classification of the defined area at 1:25,000 scale; and iii) the assessment of ES was made based on a consultation with experts from academic, administrative and scientific institutions about the capacity to supply and demand ES present in the land covers that make up the SES. It was found that the metropolitan ecological structure is composed of ten natural and semi-natural land covers, which have the capacity to provide cultural ES (high level), regulation ES (high and medium levels) and supply ES (low level). In addition, as expected, the perception was validated that the flat area of the SES–which concentrates productive, economic and service activities–is clearly the demanding one, while the areas located in the periphery–i.e. piedmonts and the Eastern and Western mountain chains–are the suppliers. Finally, the results of this research once again demonstrate that, from the academic angle, there are novel ways to strengthen the processes of formulating guidelines for planning and environmental management of metropolitan SES, from the combination of spatial analysis and expert knowledge.


metropolitan ecological structure; built metropolitan structure; socioecological system; ecosystem services; Cali


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