The Economics of Land Degradation in Russia

Alexey Sorokin, Aleksey Bryzzhev, Anton Strokov, Alisher Mirzabaev, Timothy Johnson and Sergey V. Kiselev

(Nkonya E., Mirzabaev A., von Braun J., (eds.) 2015. The Economics of Land Degradation and Improvement. Springer, Dordrecht, The Netherlands. Chapter 18)

Case study of the estimation of the prices for action and inaction in addressing land degradation on national and sub-national (regional and district) level in Russia, where the area of arable lands decreased by 25% during the period of the economic reforms between 1990-2009, showed that the total land use/cover dynamic changes are about 130 mln ha, and the total annual costs of land degradation due to land-use change only, are about 189 bln USD in 2009 as compared with 2001, i.e. about 23.6 bln USD annually, or about 2% of Russia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010. The total economic value of ecosystem goods and services is estimated to equal about 3700 bln USD in Russia, exceeding the conventional GDP by 3 times. The costs of action against land degradation are lower than the costs of inaction in Russia by 5–6 times over the 30 year horizon. Almost 92% of the costs of action are made up of the opportunity costs of action. The methodology of the economics of land degradation can be successfully applied in peculiar socioeconomic conditions of Russia, but the lack of harmonization of methods and indicators brings uncertainty to quantitative assessment.

Keywords

Rostov region, soil maps, land use maps, remote sensing data