Table of Contents

Valuing Ecosystem Services

Valuing Ecosystem Services

Methodological Issues and Case Studies

Edited by K. N. Ninan

Conserving biodiversity and ecosystem services is critical to promoting human welfare and sustainable development. Ecosystem services valuation has therefore recently assumed prominence in research and policy circles. In this illuminating volume, leading experts from around the world discuss the key methodological issues and challenges in valuing ecosystem services. Covering a cross-section of ecosystems and services in different sites, countries and regions, the collection also usefully presents case studies that value ecosystem services and experiences with operationalising valuation into policy.

Chapter 16: Fishery enhancement and coastal protection services provided by two restored Gulf of Mexico oyster reefs

Timm Kroeger and Greg Guannel

Subjects: environment, ecological economics


Oyster reefs are a key structural and functional component of many of the world’s estuarine systems (Lenihan and Peterson, 1998; NRC, 2010). For millennia, oyster reefs have supported a wide range of human uses, including harvesting of oysters for food or construction material. This is the case in the Gulf of Mexico where oysters have been harvested by humans for thousands of years (Wallace et al., 1999). However, oyster reefs directly support a wide range of additional human uses (see Appendix 1 in Kroeger, 2012). Pollution, destructive harvesting techniques, overharvesting, habitat destruction and other human activities have reduced oyster reefs by an estimated 85 per cent globally – more than any other marine habitat (Beck et al., 2011). This has led to a concomitant massive loss in terms of forgone benefits from the destroyed reefs. As is true for many natural resources, such losses can be partially explained by institutional–economic factors (Norgaard, 1990; Dietz et al., 2003; Acheson, 2006). However, in the case of oyster reefs, one important contributing factor is the fact that – apart from oyster harvests – the services these systems provide have been understood and quantified only fairly recently (Brumbaugh and Toropova, 2009; Beck et al., 2011).

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