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Ecosystem Services Valuation approach 


Valuation of Ecosystem Services can be used as a tool to evaluate trade-offs between alternative ecosystem management regimes and the multiple services they provide. The aim of valuation of ecosystem services is to ensure that policy appraisals fully take into account the costs and benefits to the natural environment (DEFRA, 2007). The concept was developed in an effort to shift the focus from (economic) valuing of environmental damage to valuing the services provided by the natural environment.


Key steps in valuing ecosystem services (DEFRA 2007):


  1. Establish the environmental baseline.
  2. Identify and provide qualitative assessment of the potential impacts of policy options on ecosystem services.
  3. Quantify the impacts of policy options on specific ecosystem services.
  4. Assess the effects on human welfare.
  5. Value the changes in ecosystem services.


Methodologies to account systematically for all the impacts on ecosystems and their services still are in development. A common problem in valuation is that quantitative (monetary) information is only available on some ecosystem services (Millennium EcosystemAssessment, 2005). Many other factors, such as intrinsic value of nature, equity among different groups or generations, and others, will also play a role, and have to be judged next to the monetary values.

In 2017, stock was taken of the 1997 publications on Ecosystem services Valuation that have appeared since 1997 (Costanza et al, 2017). Some of the remaining challenges are how to integrate ecosystem services valuation in regular economic decision making; how to incorporate big data in ecosystems services valuation, and to adapt the paradigm of linear economic growth.


Ecosystems Services Valuation has developed itself mainly as an academic discipline, and the practical value of applying economic valuation methods in BwN projects may be limited. However, the literature in the references list can be used as an inspiration to argue what the long term benefits of BwN are.



  • Costanza, R, Groot, R. de, Braat, L., Kubiszewski, I., Fioramonti, L., Sutton, P., Farber, S., Grasso, M., 2017. Twenty years of ecosystem services: How far have we come and how far do we still need to go? Ecosystem Services Volume 28, Part A, December 2017, Pages 1-16,
  • DEFRA (2007). An introductory guide to valuing ecosystem services. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), London,
  • Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005). Ecosystems and human well-being : synthesis. Washington, DC: Island Press. ISBN 1-59726-040-1.
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