Chapter 8: Limited local values and uncertain global risks in ecosystem service conservation: an example from pollinating services
Ostensibly undeveloped or unused land may be valuable to society for the services natural ecosystems preserved on it provide. This observation has motivated a great deal of recent research and policy analysis (see e.g. MA, 2005; TEEB, 2010; and the papers introduced by Kareiva and Ruffo, 2009). There are, however, a plethora of unresolved questions regarding how valuable the services of such ecosystems are and which among the services is most salient. There are also important unresolved questions concerning who will find ecosystem services most valuable. A number of researchers have found that the services of natural ecosystems may be considerably more valuable to global beneficiaries than they are to the specific local communities that make decisions concerning the preservation or destruction of local ecosystems (see e.g. Kremen et al., 2000; Naidoo and Rickets, 2006). This mismatch is problematic, as local people cannot be expected to conserve their natural ecosystems when they are not compensated for the often substantial opportunity costs of doing so. Inasmuch as the international community has not established a very admirable record for ‘putting its money where its mouth is’ in the support of biodiversity and ecosystem services (see e.g. Pearce, 2005), a search continues for ecosystem services that might prove to be of enough value to local communities to motivate conservation.
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