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The value of ecosystem services provided by the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System in the contiguous U.S

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  • Ingraham, Molly W.
  • Foster, Shonda Gilliland

Abstract

Studies that demonstrate the economic value of the ecosystem services provided by public conservation lands can contribute to a more accurate appraisal of the benefit of these lands. The objective of this study was to estimate the economic value, in real (2004) dollars, of the ecosystem services provided by the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System (Refuge System) in the contiguous U.S. In order to estimate this value, we determined the ecosystems present on the Refuge System in the contiguous 48 states, the proportion in which they are represented, and the dollar value of services provided by each. We used land cover classes as an approximation of ecosystems present in the Refuge System. In a geographic information system (GIS), we combined land cover geospatial data with a map of the Refuge System boundaries to calculate the number of acres for each refuge and land cover class within the Refuge System. We transferred values for the following ecosystem services: climate and atmospheric gas regulation; disturbance prevention; freshwater regulation and supply; waste assimilation and nutrient regulation; and habitat provision. We conducted a central tendency value transfer by transferring averaged values taken from primarily original site studies to the Refuge System based on the ecoregion in which each study site and refuge was located and the ecoregion's relative net primary productivity (NPP). NPP is a parameter used to quantify the net carbon absorption rate by living plants, and has been shown to be correlated with spatially fungible ecosystem services. The methodologies used in the site studies included direct market valuation, indirect market valuation and contingent valuation. We estimated the total value of ecosystem services provided by the Refuge System in the contiguous U.S. to be approximately $26.9 billion/year. This estimate is a first cut attempt to demonstrate that the value of the Refuge System likely exceeds the value derived purely from recreational activities. Due to limitations of current understanding, methods and data, there is a potentially large margin of error associated with the estimate.

Suggested Citation

  • Ingraham, Molly W. & Foster, Shonda Gilliland, 2008. "The value of ecosystem services provided by the U.S. National Wildlife Refuge System in the contiguous U.S," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(4), pages 608-618, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:67:y:2008:i:4:p:608-618
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    Cited by:

    1. Liu, Xiangping & Taylor, Laura O. & Hamilton, Timothy L. & Grigelis, Peter E., 2013. "Amenity values of proximity to National Wildlife Refuges: An analysis of urban residential property values," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 37-43.
    2. Foody, G.M., 2015. "Valuing map validation: The need for rigorous land cover map accuracy assessment in economic valuations of ecosystem services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 111(C), pages 23-28.
    3. Armatas, Christopher A. & Venn, Tyron J. & Watson, Alan E., 2014. "Applying Q-methodology to select and define attributes for non-market valuation: A case study from Northwest Wyoming, United States," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 447-456.
    4. 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, vol. 69(7), pages 1479-1487, May.
    5. Eugenio Figueroa & Roberto Pasten, 2014. "Economically valuing nature resources to promote conservation: An empirical application to Chile's national system of protected areas," Papers in Regional Science, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 93(4), pages 865-888, November.
    6. Jan Philipp Schägner & Luke Brander & Joachim Maes & Volkmar Hartje, 2012. "Mapping Ecosystem Services’ Values: Current Practice and Future Prospects," Working Papers 2012.59, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    7. Yi, Hoonchong & Güneralp, Burak & Filippi, Anthony M. & Kreuter, Urs P. & Güneralp, İnci, 2017. "Impacts of Land Change on Ecosystem Services in the San Antonio River Basin, Texas, from 1984 to 2010," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 135(C), pages 125-135.

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