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An operational structure for clarity in ecosystem service values

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  • Johnston, Robert J.
  • Russell, Marc

Abstract

Analyses used to value ecosystem services often confuse final ecosystem services with ecological functions that provide indirect benefit. Typologies of ecosystem services, such as that developed by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, do not ameliorate these challenges. Among the causes of ambiguity in classifying values associated with intermediate versus final ecosystem services are (1) the lack of simple, broadly applicable guidelines to assist natural and social scientists in deriving consistent and replicable classifications, and (2) attempts to define universal typologies of final services that apply to all beneficiaries. This paper presents an operational mechanism for determining whether a biophysical feature, quantity, or quality represents a final ecosystem service for an inclusive suite of beneficiaries. It is designed for straightforward application by those without expertise in natural or social sciences, and can be used within existing typologies. Illustrations of the structure demonstrate how the resulting classifications avert double counting and other ambiguities.

Suggested Citation

  • Johnston, Robert J. & Russell, Marc, 2011. "An operational structure for clarity in ecosystem service values," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(12), pages 2243-2249.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:70:y:2011:i:12:p:2243-2249
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2011.07.003
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    9. 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.
    10. Boyd, James & Krupnick, Alan, 2009. "The Definition and Choice of Environmental Commodities for Nonmarket Valuation," Discussion Papers dp-09-35, Resources For the Future.
    11. 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.
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