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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

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Wainger, Lisa A. & King, Dennis M. & Mack, Richard N. & Price, Elizabeth W. & Maslin, Thomas, 2010. "Can the concept of ecosystem services be practically applied to improve natural resource management decisions?," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 69(5), pages 978-987, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:69:y:2010:i:5:p:978-987
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    References listed on IDEAS

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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. Johnston, Robert J. & Russell, Marc, 2011. "An operational structure for clarity in ecosystem service values," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(12), pages 2243-2249.
    3. 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.
    4. Bagdon, Benjamin A. & Huang, Ching-Hsun & Dewhurst, Stephen, 2016. "Managing for ecosystem services in northern Arizona ponderosa pine forests using a novel simulation-to-optimization methodology," Ecological Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 324(C), pages 11-27.
    5. Kindler, Elisabeth, 2016. "A comparison of the concepts: Ecosystem services and forest functions to improve interdisciplinary exchange," Forest Policy and Economics, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 52-59.
    6. 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.
    7. Abson, D.J. & von Wehrden, H. & Baumgärtner, S. & Fischer, J. & Hanspach, J. & Härdtle, W. & Heinrichs, H. & Klein, A.M. & Lang, D.J. & Martens, P. & Walmsley, D., 2014. "Ecosystem services as a boundary object for sustainability," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 29-37.
    8. Katherine Simpson & Frans P de Vries & Paul Armsworth & Nick Hanley, 2017. "Designing markets for biodiversity offsets: lessons from tradable pollution permits," Discussion Papers in Environment and Development Economics 2017-04, University of St. Andrews, School of Geography and Sustainable Development.

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