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Ecosystem service mechanisms and providers

The identification and valuation of ecosystem service mechanisms and providers (ESMPs) – natural mechanisms and species or populations in eco-systems that can provide specific ecosystem services is therefore necessary. ESMP can be considered an BwN focused derivative of ESP (see text box). The approach route of ESMP: Start with an characterization of the functional roles and relationships of inherent natural mechanisms, species and population. This opens the possibility to have an assessment towards their added value, this can be done by monetary valuation methods and by non-monetary valuation methods. BwN values continuous dynamic development, so not only what is should be assessed, also scenario’s with regard to development of mechanisms, species and populations should be assessed and valued.

This enables to inform decision makers and stakeholders about the economic potential of BwN.

Each environment has different ecosystem services to offer: Sandy ShorelinesEstuariesDelta LakesTropical Shelf Seas and Shores and Coastal Seas

Eco-services and valuation

BwN has a strong foundation in ecology which opens up assessment of ecosystem services. The United Nations grouped ecosystem services into:

  • provisioning, such as the production of food and water;
  • regulating, such as the control of climate and disease;
  • supporting, such as nutrient cycles and crop pollination;
  • and cultural, such as spiritual and recreational benefits.

Major methods for valuing ecosystem services

The methods are:

  • Avoided cost: Services allow society to avoid costs that would have been incurred in the absence of those services (e.g. pollutants treatment of pollutants by wetland habitats avoids health costs)
  • Replacement cost: Services could be replaced with man-made systems (e.g. a restored resilient water system offers bio-purification which makes a purification plant obsolete, purification by micro-organism make dig off of polluted soils obsolete)
  • Enhancing income: Services provide for the enhancement of incomes (e.g. improved&; water quality facilitates fishery and improves the income of fishers)

Flexibility and controllability

Contrary adjustments to BwN alternatives, either when expected effects do not fully occur, or new unforeseen conditions occur, can be done by small, incremental and if necessary multiple steps, as referred to already above. This implies that decision makers stay in control and the chance of early write off of investments is minimal. This offers certainty to, reduces costs and the drive to over-design can be avoided. Also of importance is to realize that often maintenance and management costs are paid by another actor. If these are lower in case of BwN, as often is assumed, BwN is under appreciated unless costs are calculated and taken into account over the whole life-cycle.

Value engineering

There is a serious issue with EMSP in decision making. Beneficiaries try to ‘fly below radar’ in order not to be charged for the revenues they receive from a BwN project. There are also ample examples of beneficiaries that, once they are noticed, hire own knowledge suppliers that have to prove that in fact they do not benefit. This is not only practiced by stakeholders, also governments from various administrative levels and sectors show this avoiding behavior. This calls for clear efforts on trust and commitment that have to be formalized early in the process. Voluntary or negotiated agreements present an option in combination with simple rules of the game: actors are included in project groups, steering groups, and in community advisory groups should agree to abandon free riding behavior. And agree to exclude actors that effuse to comply.

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