Spatial aspects of the provision of forest ecosystem services

PhD defence

Anne Sofie Elberg Nielsen


The research objective of this thesis is to examine the importance of spatial landscape patterns for the provision of forest ecosystem services and the implications for effective land management and policy decisions. This thesis presents four papers providing different approaches to the incorporation of spatial factors into cost and benefit evaluation of FES provision. Focus is on assessing where forest ecosystem provision should be undertaken, determinants of private stakeholder provision efforts and welfare consequences of changes in the provision level. Provision of carbon sequestration, habitat for biodiversity and recreational access is examined at varying spatial scales and complexity, and previous literature for each subject is augmented by combining Geographical Information Systems (GIS) data with micro-level public registers, ecological and survey data.

The first paper presents new estimates for the U.S. counties of the cost of carbon sequestration from afforestation (conversion of non-forest land to forest), when afforestation is restricted by Holdridge zone climatic conditions. Aside from assessing the overall marginal cost schedule, the spatial distribution of these are examined, to assess where afforestation should be undertaken for given carbon prices. The second paper investigates the determinants of landowner participation in a Danish voluntary conservation program. Combining contract data of landowners’ actual choices, GIS information on area specific characteristics and detailed individual register data of the landowner, a framework for analyzing revealed choice in voluntary conservation programs is developed. The third paper implements the framework from the second paper to address the importance of including information on private landowners and their potential supply of land for conservation into systematic conservation planning. Finally, the fourth paper uses a choice experiment to test whether people’s WTA for restricted access is influenced by spatial heterogeneity in local forest conditions. In addition, the paper assesses the potential for self-selection bias by comparing local forest attributes for respondents and non-respondents.


Niels Strange, Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen

Assesment Committee

Bo Jellesmark Thorsen, Professor, Department of Food and Resource Economics, University of Copenhagen
Mette Termansen, Professor, University of Aarhus, Denmark
Jens Abildtrup, Chargé de Recherches, The French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA), France