Methodological Issues and Case Studies
Edited by K. N. Ninan
Chapter 9: Valuing forest ecosystem services: what we know and what we don’t
Ecosystem services valuation has achieved considerable prominence in research and policy circles in recent years, especially since the publication of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), which emphasized the importance of biodiversity to ecosystem services, human well-being and sustainable development. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and European Commission (EC), and the set-up of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) testify to the importance these groups place on ecosystem services valuation. International conferences; special issues of journals, such as Ecological Economics (see Vol. 41, 2002; Vol. 64(2), 2007; Vol. 69(7), 2010), on ecosystem services valuation; and the launch of a new journal, titled Ecosystem Services, further highlight the growing importance of the field. The underlying premise of the economic valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services is that if proper values are assigned, then policymakers will make better informed decisions. However, a number of people have reservations about applying economic valuations and conventional cost–benefit analyses (CBA) to biodiversity and ecosystem services and argue for relying on plural approaches to justify conservation (Norgaard, 2010). Economic valuation, however, does not imply that other perspectives for better management of the environment must be neglected. This approach simply seeks to convey that proper valuation of environmental goods and services will lead to better conservation outcomes. Studies that estimate the economic value of ecosystem services cover a broad cross-section of ecosystems and sites in different countries and regions.
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