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Valuing forest ecosystem services: What we know and what we don't


  • Ninan, K.N.
  • Inoue, Makoto


Ecosystem services valuation has achieved considerable prominence in research and policy circles in recent years. This paper reviews the studies that have tried to estimate the value of forest ecosystem services. Broadly, this study addresses the following questions: (1) What insights do these studies provide on the value of forest ecosystems? (2) What lessons do they offer from an economic and policy perspective? (3) What are the shortcomings of the existing studies, and what are the challenges and issues for future research? Evidence from a cross section of forest sites, countries and regions suggests that not only the total valuation of ecosystem services varies widely across studies but also the valuation of individual services. This variation suggests that policies to conserve ecosystems and their services should emphasise local contexts and values. This paper concludes by discussing the shortcomings of existing studies, and suggests that, among other things, future research should focus on the neglected ecosystem services, ‘disservices’, assess the role of dynamic factors and environmental catastrophes on the provision of ecosystem services, and assess the benefits of keeping forests intact versus converting them to alternative uses.

Suggested Citation

  • Ninan, K.N. & Inoue, Makoto, 2013. "Valuing forest ecosystem services: What we know and what we don't," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 137-149.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:ecolec:v:93:y:2013:i:c:p:137-149
    DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2013.05.005

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:forpol:v:80:y:2017:i:c:p:150-159 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. D'Amato, D. & Rekola, M. & Li, N. & Toppinen, A., 2016. "Monetary valuation of forest ecosystem services in China: A literature review and identification of future research needs," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 121(C), pages 75-84.
    3. Utkur Djanibekov & Asia Khamzina, 2016. "Stochastic Economic Assessment of Afforestation on Marginal Land in Irrigated Farming System," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 63(1), pages 95-117, January.
    4. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:5:p:708-:d:97115 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Narita, Daiju & Lemenih, Mulugeta & Shimoda, Yukimi & Ayana, Alemayehu N., 2017. "Toward an Accounting of the Values of Ethiopian Forests as Natural Capital," Working Papers 140, JICA Research Institute.
    6. Bertram, Christine & Larondelle, Neele, 2017. "Going to the Woods Is Going Home: Recreational Benefits of a Larger Urban Forest Site — A Travel Cost Analysis for Berlin, Germany," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 255-263.
    7. Gibson, Fiona & Pannell, David & Boxall, Peter & Burton, Michael & Johnston, Robert & Kragt, Marit & Rogers, Abbie & Rolfe, John, 2016. "Non-market valuation in the economic analysis of natural hazards," Working Papers 236941, University of Western Australia, School of Agricultural and Resource Economics.

    More about this item


    Economic valuation; Forest ecosystem services; Watershed protection; Soil conservation; Carbon sequestration; Recreation benefits;

    JEL classification:

    • Q51 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Valuation of Environmental Effects
    • Q57 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Ecological Economics
    • Q23 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Forestry


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