The value of ecosystem services in the high altitude Spiti Valley, Indian Trans-Himalaya

Ranjini Murali*, Stephen Redpath, Charudutt Mishra

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


The high mountain ranges of South and Central Asia are increasingly being exposed to large-scale development projects. These areas are home to traditional pastoralist communities and internationally important biodiversity including the endangered snow leopard Panthera uncia. Development projects rely on economic cost-benefit analysis, but the ecosystem services in the high Himalayas are poorly understood and are rarely accounted for. As a first step to fill this gap, we identified the main ecosystem services used by local people in the Trans-Himalayan Spiti Valley (7591 km2), a region important for conservation of snow leopards and high mountain biodiversity, and undertook an economic valuation. Stakeholders identified a range of services, though these were dominated by provisioning services identified by 90% of respondents. Only 5.4% of the respondents recognised regulatory services and 4.8% recognised cultural services. The mean economic value of provisioning services was estimated at US$ 3622 ± 149 HH−1 yr−1, which was 3.8 times higher than the average annual household income. Our results underscore the need to account for ecosystem services in the cost-benefit analyses of large-scale development projects in addition to assessments of their environmental and social impact.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-123
Number of pages9
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date31 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2017


  • Economic valuation
  • Ecosystem services
  • Local communities
  • Panthera uncia
  • Pastoralists
  • Provisioning services


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