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To Value Functions or Services? An Analysis of Ecosystem Valuation Approaches

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  • Erik Ansink
  • Lars Hein
  • Knut Per Hasund

Abstract

Monetary valuation of ecosystem services is a widely used approach to quantify the benefits supplied by the natural environment to society. An alternative approach is the monetary valuation of ecosystem functions, which is defined as the capacity of the ecosystem to supply services. Using two European case-study areas, this paper explores the relative advantages of the two valuation approaches. This is done using a conceptual analysis, a qualitative application, and an overall comparison of both approaches. It is concluded that both approaches can be defended on theoretical grounds, and - if properly applied - will provide the same value estimates. However, valuation of ecosystem services is preferred from a practical point of view. Because there is no one-to-one match between functions and services, researchers should be consistent in their valuation approach. To avoid overlooking or overlapping of values, valuation should either be solely based on functions, or solely based on services.

Suggested Citation

  • Erik Ansink & Lars Hein & Knut Per Hasund, 2008. "To Value Functions or Services? An Analysis of Ecosystem Valuation Approaches," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 17(4), pages 489-503, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:env:journl:ev17:ev1726
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Edens, Bram & Hein, Lars, 2013. "Towards a consistent approach for ecosystem accounting," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 90(C), pages 41-52.
    2. Dianne McGrath, 2011. "Accounting for the Environment: Towards a Theoretical Perspective for Environmental Accounting and Reporting," Social and Environmental Accountability Journal, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 31(2), pages 169-170, September.
    3. Ali Douai, 2009. "Value Theory in Ecological Economics: The Contribution of a Political Economy of Wealth," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 18(3), pages 257-284, August.
    4. Shonil A. Bhagwat, 2009. "Ecosystem Services and Sacred Natural Sites: Reconciling Material and Non-material Values in Nature Conservation," Environmental Values, White Horse Press, vol. 18(4), pages 417-427, November.
    5. Spangenberg, Joachim H. & von Haaren, Christina & Settele, Josef, 2014. "The ecosystem service cascade: Further developing the metaphor. Integrating societal processes to accommodate social processes and planning, and the case of bioenergy," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 22-32.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Environmental valuation; ecosystem functions; ecosystem services;

    JEL classification:

    • Q20 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - General
    • Q26 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation - - - Recreational Aspects of Natural Resources

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