Chapter 11: Valuing forest ecosystem services: case study of a forest reserve in Japan
Forests provide several intangible benefits such as regulating local and global climate, protecting watersheds, arresting soil erosion, nutrient cycling, etc., which policymakers ignore since these values do not register in conventional markets or are difficult to measure. While in the past the use, non-use and intrinsic values were cited to justify conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005) added another dimension – viz. its role in providing ecosystem services which impact on human well-being and sustainable development (MEA, 2005; Ninan, 2007, 2011). In a seminal article, Costanza et al. (1997) estimated the total annual value of the world’s ecosystem services at an average of US$33 trillion, and of global forests at US$969 per hectare. Despite Japan having the largest proportion of land area under forests among high income countries in the world (about 69 per cent as per the Global Forest Resources Assessment Report for 2010), surprisingly there are very few studies which have assessed the economic value of the ecosystem services of Japan’s forests, and these being in Japanese are not easily accessible to the international scientific community. One such study cited recently estimated the total economic value of the ecosystem services of Japan’s forests at about US$620 billion (2001 US$) per annum (MRC, 2001; White et al., 2011). This chapter, therefore, makes a case study to assess the economic value of the ecosystem services of forests in Japan.
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