Economics and Ecosystems

Economics and Ecosystems

Efficiency, Sustainability and Equity in Ecosystem Management

Lars Hein

Economics and Ecosystems demonstrates how the concepts of economic efficiency, sustainability and equity can be applied in ecosystem management. The book presents an overview of these three concepts, a framework for their analysis and modelling, and three case studies. Specific attention is given to how complex ecosystem dynamics, such as thresholds or irreversible responses, influence ecosystem management options. The case studies focus on ecosystem dynamics and ecosystem services supply in a forest ecosystem, a Dutch wetland, and a rangeland in the Western Sahel.

Chapter 5: Case Study: Eutrophication Control in the De Wieden Wetland, The Netherlands

Lars Hein

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, ecological economics, environmental economics


INTRODUCTION 5.1 This chapter aims to apply the ecological–economic modelling approach described in Chapter 3 to a real-world ecosystem. The framework is used to construct an ecological–economic model to compare the costs and benefits of eutrophication control measures in the lakes of De Wieden, the Netherlands. Eutrophication of lakes is caused by the inflow of nutrients, in particular nitrogen and phosphorus, that are released from agricultural or urban sources. Eutrophication often leads to a reduction in the supply of ecosystem services. For instance, it may affect recreation, fisheries or nature conservation in and around the water body (Carpenter et al., 1999; Mäler, 2000). The response of a freshwater lake to changes in nutrient loading is generally subject to multiple states and thresholds. These multiple states are determined by different factors in deep and shallow lakes. In deep lakes, a critical aspect of the lake ecosystem dynamics is whether the deep part of the lake is in an aerobic or anaerobic condition. In shallow lakes, different states are characterised by different lake visibility and different plant and fish communities (Timms and Moss, 1984; Scheffer, 1998). This case study focusses on a shallow lake ecosystem, accounting for the complex dynamics of this ecosystem. The identification of efficient eutrophication control strategies involves the comparison of the costs and benefits of eutrophication control measures. The costs relate to the investment, operation and maintenance of pollution control equipment, the benefits to an increased supply of ecosystem services following reduced eutrophication. A crucial...

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