Handbook on the Economics of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity
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Handbook on the Economics of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity

Edited by Paulo A.L.D. Nunes, Pushpam Kumar and Tom Dedeurwaerdere

In recent years, there has been a marked proliferation in the literature on economic approaches to ecosystem management, which has created a subsequent need for real understanding of the scope and the limits of the economic approaches to ecosystems and biodiversity. Within this Handbook, carefully commissioned original contributions from acknowledged experts in the field address the new concepts and their applications, identify knowledge gaps and provide authoritative recommendations.
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Chapter 16: The valuation of ecosystem services and their role in decision-making: constraints and ways forward

Anil Markandya and Marta Pascual


There has been a great deal of interest in, and work on, the valuation of ecosystem services (ESS) over the last three decades. Since then, a wide range of benefits that nature provides to human beings has been identified and, to various degrees, values have been estimated for them. Yet, there remain some important concerns about what has been achieved so far. In this chapter we examine these concerns in some detail. The chapter begins with a summary of the state-of-the-art in the study of ecosystem services and, in particular, the role of economic valuation in this area (Sections 16.2 and 16.3). Section 16.4 looks at the actual use of economic valuation of ESS in the decision-making process, noting that its applicability is still relatively scarce. We believe this is unfortunate as it limits the mainstreaming of ESS into public decision-making, where money values are a key unit of account and an important contribution to determining relative priorities. Section 16.5 discusses the constraints of the ESS approach, which lead to it being less deployed as a tool of analysis, and suggests how these can be addressed. The main issues examined are the following: * How satisfactory is it to have a single value total economic value (TEV) (in euros or dollars) for the complex range of services provided by ecosystems? * To what extent do the methods of valuation capture the wide range of socio-cultural perceptions that exist about the different ESS?

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