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Natura 2000 network is a cornerstone for biodiversity conservation and the implementation of the European Union Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. Despite this, the great potential of the ecosystem service (ES) concept to add value to current conservation approaches remains insufficiently explored and there is a lack of quantitative and monetary data for the potential socio-economic benefits associated to the network. Information gaps on the economic value of ES provided by Natura 2000 are relevant in the case of Italy and, in particular, Lombardy, the Italian region hosting the highest number of Natura 2000 sites (242). The study considers the main potential ES delivered by the Natura 2000 network in Lombardy and performs a choice experiment exercise on two pilot areas (Adamello and Ticino Regional Parks) involving about 3,000 resident panellists at regional scale. Value function benefit transfer based on individual characteristics of respondents, land use and socio-economic characteristics of all regional municipalities has been performed as well. With few exceptions, results show an increase in willingness-to-pay (WTP) values that is consistent with the increase in the levels for attributes covered by the surveys. Besides providing some preliminary economic values, the research contributes to the development of a methodology for assessing and monitoring ES over time, with the aim to inform future policies and decision-making processes.


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