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Integrating ecosystem services into risk management decisions: Case study with Spanish citrus and the insecticide chlorpyrifos

Deacon, Samantha, Norman, Steve, Nicolette, Joseph, Reub, Gregory, Greene, Gretchen, Osborn, Rachel, Andrews, Paul
The Science of the total environment 2015 v.505 pp. 732-739
Citrus, agrochemicals, case studies, chlorpyrifos, crop management, crop production, decision making, ecosystem services, ecosystems, environmental management, farm income, farms, growers, insecticidal properties, insects, issues and policy, landscapes, markets, risk, risk management, socioeconomics, wildlife habitats, Europe
The European regulatory system for the approval of pesticides includes a thorough evaluation of risks to the environment and is designed to be protective of ecosystems. However, a decision to ban an agrochemical could also potentially have a negative impact on the value of ecosystem services, if resulting changes in crop management are damaging to ecosystems or result in negative socio-economic impacts. To support regulatory decision-making, consideration of ecosystem services to identify best environmental management options could be a way forward. There is generally a growing trend for the consideration of ecosystem services in decision making. Ecosystems provide the conditions for growing food, regulate water and provide wildlife habitats; these, amongst others, are known as ecosystem services.The objectives of this case study were to bring a holistic approach to decision making by valuing the environmental, social and economic benefits derived from the use of chlorpyrifos in Valencian citrus production. Spanish growers harvest between 5 and 6milliont of citrus annually, worth an estimated €5 to 7billion in food markets throughout Europe. The approach highlighted the potential for unintended negative consequences of regulatory decisions if the full context is not considered. In this study, rather than a regulatory restriction, the best option was the continued use of chlorpyrifos together with vegetated conservation patches as refuges for non-target insects. The conservation patches offset potential insecticidal impacts to insects whilst maintaining citrus production, farm income and the amenity value of the citrus landscape of Valencia. This was an initial proof-of-concept study and illustrates the importance of a wider perspective; other cases may have different outcomes depending on policies, the pesticide, crop scenarios, farm economics and the region.