Land use-land cover change influences and is influenced by global climate change. Peri-urban forests are among the most vulnerable ecosystems but their sustainable management can be an efficient way of mitigating and adapting to climate change and increase resilience of urban socio-ecological systems. Ecosystem services—the benefits that humans derive from ecological systems offer a useful framework of incorporating nature's services into decision making. Mainstreaming ecosystem services (ESs) to national accounting and development paradigms require initiation of ESs in the national policy documents as a sustainable development goal (SDG) enabler. However, research and resource capacity on this still-evolving theme is limited.
The present study is an effort to estimate terrestrial and aquatic carbon stocks, carbon sequestration and the economic value of ecosystem services in Soor Sarovar Bird Sanctuary (SSBS) located in a semi-arid area of Uttar Pradesh (UP), a tiny human-made forest ecosystem adjoining densely populated city of Agra on the highway leading to the Indian capital city of Delhi.
The study tailors established transdisciplinary, integrative project management methods to both primary and secondary study and devises aquatic carbon estimation techniques through first principles and analogies. A value-driven and iterative agile project management approach was adopted to resolve innovation complexities.
Apart from a carbon stock of 1.31 million tons with an estimated value of INR 21 million, the total annual economic value flow of INR 827 million for 799 ha area has been derived from carbon sequestration, recreation, water provisioning, wastewater treatment and employment generated. Benefits from SSBS @ INR 10,14,442 / ha per annum compares in order of magnitude higher than the INR 11,186 /ha per annum estimated for cropland ecosystem services for Agra district.
The research constraints limited the study scope to physical estimation and monetisation of i) carbon stocks, ii) recreational value and iii) firewood produce through primary research. The other substantive values of water provision, sewage treatment and meaningful employment have been estimated through mix methods of secondary research and site observations. A Value + approach describes other significant services being provided by the sanctuary as qualitative narratives.
In conclusion, the case study utilises transdisciplinary knowledge and innovative technologies to demonstrate the practicality of ESs adoption as a method of sustainable development into routine practice.