Integrating the ecological and economic dimensions in biodiversity and ecosystem service valuation

R.S. de Groot, B. Fisher, M. Christie, J. Aronson, L. Braat, R. Haines-Young, J. Gowdy, E. Maltby, A. Neuville, S. Polasky, R. Portela, I. Ring

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review

179 Citations (Scopus)


Linking biophysical aspects of ecosystems with human benefits through the notion of ecosystem services is essential to assess the trade-offs (ecological, socio-cultural, economic and monetary) involved in the loss of ecosystems and biodiversity in a clear and consistent manner. Any ecosystem assessment should be spatially and temporally explicit at scales meaningful for policy formation or interventions, inherently acknowledging that both ecological functioning and economic values are context, space and time specific. Any ecosystem assessment should first aim to determine the service delivery in biophysical terms, to provide solid ecological underpinning to the economic valuation or measurement with alternative metrics. Clearly delineating between functions, services and benefits is important to make ecosystem assessments more accessible to economic valuation, although no consensus has yet been reached on the classification. Ecosystem assessments should be set within the context of contrasting scenarios - recognising that both the values of ecosystem services and the costs of actions can be best measured as a function of changes between alternative options. In assessing trade-offs between alternative uses of ecosystems, the total bundle of ecosystem services provided by different conversion and management states should be included. Any valuation study should be fully aware of the „cost¿ side of the equation, as focus on benefits only ignores important societal costs like missed opportunities of alternative uses; this also allows for a more extensive range of societal values to be considered. Ecosystem assessments should integrate an analysis of risks and uncertainties, acknowledging the limitations of knowledge on the impacts of human actions on ecosystems and their services and on their importance to human well-being. In order to improve incentive structures and institutions, the different stakeholders - i.e. the beneficiaries of ecosystem services, those who are providing the services, those involved in or affected by the use, and the actors involved at different levels of decision-making - should be clearly identified, and decision making processes need to be transparent
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB): Ecological and Economic Foundations
EditorsP. Kumar
Place of PublicationLonden
PublisherEarthscan, Routledge
ISBN (Electronic)9781849775489
ISBN (Print)9781849712125
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2010


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