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


  • M. Tabares-Mosquera Grupo de investigación Territorios, Departamento de Geografía, Universidad del Valle, Santiago de Cali, Colombia
  • E. Zapata-Caldas PhD Student in Environmental Sciences. "Territorios" Research Group. Universidad del Valle, Santiago de Cali, Colombia
  • O. Buitrago-Bermúdez Grupo de investigación Territorios, Departamento de Geografía, Universidad del Valle, Santiago de Cali, Colombia



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


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.


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Author Biographies

M. Tabares-Mosquera, Grupo de investigación Territorios, Departamento de Geografía, Universidad del Valle, Santiago de Cali, Colombia

Mauricio Tabares-Mosquera: Geógrafo de la Universidad del Valle. Integrante del grupo de investigación «Territorios» (categoría A, Colciencias), adscrito al Departamento de Geografía de la Universidad del Valle.

E. Zapata-Caldas, PhD Student in Environmental Sciences. "Territorios" Research Group. Universidad del Valle, Santiago de Cali, Colombia

Emmanuel Zapata-Caldas: Geógrafo de la Universidad del Valle, Colombia. Tiene una maestría en sistemas de información geográfica (SIG) de la Universidad de Salzburgo, Austria, y actualmente es PhD (c) en Ciencias Ambientales en la Universidad del Valle. Integrante del grupo de investigación «Territorios» (categoría A, Colciencias). Ha trabajado en el Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT), Colombia, y en el Centro Mundial Bahá'í, Israel.

O. Buitrago-Bermúdez, Grupo de investigación Territorios, Departamento de Geografía, Universidad del Valle, Santiago de Cali, Colombia

Óscar Buitrago-Bermúdez: Profesor Titular del Departamento de Geografía de la Universidad del Valle. PhD en Geografía por la Universidad Estadual Paulista «Julio de Mesquita Filho. Director del grupo de investigación «Territorios» (categoría A, Colciencias). Editor de la Revista Entorno Geográfico.


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How to Cite

Tabares-Mosquera M, Zapata-Caldas E, Buitrago-Bermúdez O. Valuation of Ecosystem Services for the Identification of Metropolitan Ecological Structures: the Case of Cali, Colombia. CIG [Internet]. 2020 Sep. 15 [cited 2023 Jun. 6];46(2):603-31. Available from: