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Can the concept of ecosystem services be practically applied to improve natural resource management decisions?

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  • Wainger, Lisa A.
  • King, Dennis M.
  • Mack, Richard N.
  • Price, Elizabeth W.
  • Maslin, Thomas
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    Abstract

    Applying ecosystem service valuation principles to natural resources management has the potential to encourage the efficient use of resources, but can decision support systems built on these principles be made both practical and robust? The limitations to building such systems are the practical limits on managers' time to develop or learn tools and the state of the science to support decision-making components. We address this question by applying a cost-effectiveness analysis framework and optimization model to support the targeting of restoration funds to control an invasive grass (Bromus tectorum) in agro-ecosystems. The optimization aims to maximize benefits derived from a suite of ecosystem services that may be enhanced through site restoration. The model combines a spatially-varying cost function with ecosystem service benefit functions that are risk-adjusted to capture the probability of successful restoration. We demonstrate that our approach generates roughly three times the level of ecosystem service benefits (as measured through indicators) compared to the current management strategy of selecting restoration sites that are superlative producers of one ecosystem service. The results showed that spatial (GIS) data and ecosystem understanding were sufficient to formally capture the managers' informal decisions and that cost-effectiveness of restoration could be improved by considering the ability of sites to jointly produce multiple ecosystem services and adjusting expected benefits by the probability of success.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 69 (2010)
    Issue (Month): 5 (March)
    Pages: 978-987

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:69:y:2010:i:5:p:978-987

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    Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/ecolecon

    Related research

    Keywords: Ecosystem services Invasive species management Optimization Cheatgrass Agro-ecosystems Spatially variable cost-effectiveness Restoration;

    References

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Scott M. Swinton & Frank Lupi & G. Philip Robertson & Douglas A. Landis, 2006. "Ecosystem Services from Agriculture: Looking Beyond the Usual Suspects," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 88(5), pages 1160-1166.
    2. Higgins, Steven I. & Turpie, Jane K. & Costanza, Robert & Cowling, Richard M. & Le Maitre, Dave C. & Marais, Christo & Midgley, Guy F., 1997. "An ecological economic simulation model of mountain fynbos ecosystems: Dynamics, valuation and management," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(2), pages 155-169, August.
    3. Edward B. Barbier, 2007. "Valuing ecosystem services as productive inputs," Economic Policy, CEPR & CES & MSH, vol. 22, pages 177-229, 01.
    4. Polasky, Stephen, 2008. "What's Nature Done for You Lately: Measuring the Value of Ecosystem Services," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 23(2).
    5. Holmes, Thomas P. & Bergstrom, John C. & Huszar, Eric & Kask, Susan B. & Orr, Fritz III, 2004. "Contingent valuation, net marginal benefits, and the scale of riparian ecosystem restoration," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 19-30, May.
    6. Chad Settle & Jason E Shogren, 2002. "Modeling Native-Exotic Species within Yellowstone Lake," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1323-1328.
    7. Ready, Richard C. & Navrud, Stale, 2005. "Benefit Transfer – The Quick, the Dirty, and the Ugly?," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 20(3).
    8. Egoh, Benis & Rouget, Mathieu & Reyers, Belinda & Knight, Andrew T. & Cowling, Richard M. & van Jaarsveld, Albert S. & Welz, Adam, 2007. "Integrating ecosystem services into conservation assessments: A review," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 714-721, September.
    9. Spash, Clive L. & Vatn, Arild, 2006. "Transferring environmental value estimates: Issues and alternatives," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(2), pages 379-388, December.
    10. Loomis, John & Kent, Paula & Strange, Liz & Fausch, Kurt & Covich, Alan, 2000. "Measuring the total economic value of restoring ecosystem services in an impaired river basin: results from a contingent valuation survey," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 103-117, April.
    11. Barton, D.N. & Rusch, G. & May, P. & Ring, I. & Unnerstall, H. & Santos, R. & Antunes, P. & Brouwer, R. & Grieg-Gran, M. & Similä, J. & Primmer, E. & Romeiro, A. & DeClerck, F. & Ibrahim, M., 2009. "Assessing the role of economic instruments in a policy mix for biodiversity conservation and ecosystem services provision: a review of some methodological challenges," MPRA Paper 15554, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    12. James Boyd & Lisa Wainger, 2002. "Landscape Indicators of Ecosystem Service Benefits," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 84(5), pages 1371-1378.
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    Cited by:
    1. Hearnshaw, Edward J.S. & Cullen, Ross, 2010. "The Sustainability and Cost-Effectiveness of Water Storage Projects on Canterbury Rivers: The Opihi River Case," 2010 Conference, August 26-27, 2010, Nelson, New Zealand 97265, New Zealand Agricultural and Resource Economics Society.
    2. Sonter, L.J. & Moran, C.J. & Barrett, D.J., 2013. "Modeling the impact of revegetation on regional water quality: A collective approach to manage the cumulative impacts of mining in the Bowen Basin, Australia," Resources Policy, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 670-677.
    3. Jean-Michel Salles, 2011. "Valuing biodiversity and ecosystem services: why linking economic values with Nature?," Working Papers 11-24, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Dec 2011.

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