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A Natural Capital Approach to Landscape Planning: a Pilot Project in Colchagua Valley, Chile

Case Study 2019

JNCC teamed up with Chilean colleagues at the Programa Vino, Cambio Climático y Biodiversidad  (VCCB, Wine, Climate Change and Biodiversity Programme) – a scientific initiative of the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity and the University Austral of Chile, to model the ecosystem services of greatest importance to the wine industry of Colchagua Valley. Using a combination of satellite data, regional and global data sources, local knowledge and open source tools, the project produced ecosystem service delivery maps for the region, as well as an interactive VINES tool which allows vineyard managers to not only understand the level of ecosystem service delivery at the field level now and under climate change scenarios, but also to test how changes in their land management decisions contribute to the ecosystem service delivery.


Ecosystem service mapper

Chile mapper An interactive mapper allows you to explore the area, habitat map, and some of the ecosystem service delivery maps which were produced as part of this project.



Shiny app This app allows each of the stakeholders to check the ecosystem service delivery within their individual fields. Try changing the management options to see how different decisions may impact the level of service delivery both now and in the future.


The VCCB Programme was established in 2008 and works with 17 vineyards that seek to demonstrate how biodiversity conservation and development of the Chilean wine industry can be compatible. The UK has a long-standing trading partnership with Chile, in 2017 Chile exported 9% of its wine to the United Kingdom to a value of US$203m.  The total market value on Chilean wine in 2018 was US$2Bn.  Projects such as this are critical to the UK and its trading partners in understanding how emerging science and technology can be translated for use by businesses to underpin sustainable supply chains that deliver long-term value, whilst protecting the ecosystems that support the global economy. 

The Colchagua Valley is located in central Chile and is part of the Chilean Mediterranean biome.  The area plays an important role in the productivity of Chile’s agriculture and viticulture and is also considered a priority for biological conservation as it represents 16% of the continental surface of Chile, yet hosts 50% of flora and more than half of the country’s endemic species.

The project demonstrates how open source Earth observation data and modelling software can be utilised in combination with commercial and local knowledge to develop a suite of user defined tools that help bring environmental data into corporate decision making processes. It has provided landscape-scale understanding of the habitats and resulting benefits and trade-offs of ecosystem services for the viticulture perspective, while also producing a tool to consider the implications of these that can be used at the scale of individual businesses.

The high-level project objectives were to:

  • Demonstrate how high-resolution Earth Observation data, ecosystem modelling and local ecological knowledge can be combined to inform ecosystem-based management.
  • Work with the Chilean wine industry to identify where the application of mapping and modelling outputs can offer commercial benefits by informing sustainable supply-chain management.
  • Strengthen future collaboration between land users and data providers, as well as future working relationships between the UK and partners across the South Atlantic region.

It is increasingly recognised that evidence-based environmental management is critical for avoiding supply chain disruption and potential infrastructure damage, such as identifying fire risks and implementing avoidance strategies. Better understanding of catchment processes can lead to informed land management planning and predicting factors such as water stress, soil degradation and pollution risk that are vital to ensure the sustainability of any business.

Local stakeholder knowledge and relevant literature was used to develop a contextually relevant Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) that provided the basis for a conceptualised model that helped visualise complex landscape functions.  This helps provide a clearer picture as to how biodiversity, ecosystem services, land management practices and other environmental variables (e.g. climate and soils) interlink to guide and support sustainable production management systems.

The project mapped landcover and habitats across 6,900 km², and this was used as the basis to model ecosystem services related to natural fire risk protection, soil erosion, and water provision. Models also assessed future environmental conditions under different predicted climate scenarios, as well as the impacts different management practices had on ecosystem services.  

This pilot project was presented to vineyard owners and manager, who noted a multitude of uses this approach can have, not only to their business, but to a range of land users both nationally and regionally. Plans are now underway to see how the outputs can be developed and improved, including applying to other land management scenarios and helping to make the value that nature provides to the economy more visible and tangible.


Further Reading

Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity:

Simoes, A.J.G. and Hidalgo, C.A. 2011. The Economic Complexity Observatory: An Analytical Tool for Understanding the Dynamics of Economic Development. Workshops at the Twenty-Fifth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence. Available at: [Accessed 09/06/2019]

Wine, Climate Change and Biodiversity Program:

World Top Exports, Wine Exports by Country:

University Austral of Chile:


Chile Viticulture Project partner logos

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