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The quantification and valuation of ecosystem services

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  • Sagoff, Mark
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    Abstract

    This paper explores differences between economic and ecological criteria for identifying, measuring, and evaluating ecosystem services. It argues that economic stakeholders (user groups) generally do well in identifying these services and assigning prices to them. These prices arise spontaneously in--and serve to coordinate--market activity related to the environment. The relevant ecological information which markets gather and apply tends to be dispersed, contingent, particular, local, transitory, and embedded in institutions and practices. Ecologists and other scientists, in contrast, often seek to understand how ecosystems work and which populations and processes provide ecosystem services. The knowledge science seeks, unlike the information markets gather, tends to be centralized, collaborative, collective, and consensus-based; science pursues concepts and principles that are timeless and general rather than ephemeral and site-specific. The paper contrasts the dispersed and decentralized information organized by markets with the collective and centralized knowledge characteristic of science. The paper argues that the conceptual distance between market-based and science-based methods of assembling information and applying knowledge defeats efforts to determine the "value" of ecosystem services in any integrated sense.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Ecological Economics.

    Volume (Year): 70 (2011)
    Issue (Month): 3 (January)
    Pages: 497-502

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    Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:3:p:497-502

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

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    Keywords: Ecosystem services Hayek Ecological economics;

    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. Polasky, Stephen, 2008. "What's Nature Done for You Lately: Measuring the Value of Ecosystem Services," Choices, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 23(2).
    2. Boyd, James & Banzhaf, Spencer, 2007. "What are ecosystem services? The need for standardized environmental accounting units," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 63(2-3), pages 616-626, August.
    3. John O'Neill, 2004. "Ecological economics and the politics of knowledge: the debate between Hayek and Neurath," Cambridge Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, Oxford University Press, vol. 28(3), pages 431-447, May.
    4. Fisher, Brendan & Turner, R. Kerry & Morling, Paul, 2009. "Defining and classifying ecosystem services for decision making," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 68(3), pages 643-653, January.
    5. O'Neill, John, 2006. "Knowledge, Planning, And Markets: A Missing Chapter In The Socialist Calculation Debates," Economics and Philosophy, Cambridge University Press, vol. 22(01), pages 55-78, March.
    6. Kontogianni, Areti & Luck, Gary W. & Skourtos, Michalis, 2010. "Valuing ecosystem services on the basis of service-providing units: A potential approach to address the 'endpoint problem' and improve stated preference methods," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 69(7), pages 1479-1487, May.
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    Cited by:
    1. Longhitano, Davide, 2012. "La Valutazione dei Servizi Ecosistemici. Proposta per un Approccio Termoeconomico," Congress Papers, Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA) 124123, Italian Association of Agricultural and Applied Economics (AIEAA).
    2. Polishchuk, Yuliana & Rauschmayer, Felix, 2011. "Ecosystem effects on well-being: More than just "benefits"? Looking at ecosystem services through the capability approach," UFZ Discussion Papers 6/2011, Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), Division of Social Sciences (├ľKUS).
    3. Jean-Michel Salles, 2011. "Valuing biodiversity and ecosystem services: why linking economic values with Nature?," Working Papers, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier 11-24, LAMETA, Universtiy of Montpellier, revised Dec 2011.
    4. Wolfson, Dirk J., 2014. "Who gets what in environmental policy?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 8-14.

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