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Classifying Ecosystem Services for Economic Valuation: The case of forest water services


  • Elena Ojea
  • Julia Martin-Ortega
  • Aline Chiabai


Since the release of the Millennium Ecosystem Approach (MEA), the number of studies valuing ecosystem services has grown. As a consequence of this growing literature, different interpretations exist on the classification of services as derived from MEA, and several studies have argued that this may not be the most appropriate framework when the aim of the analysis is economic valuation. The present paper contributes to this debate by reviewing and comparing these critical views in order firstly to clarify the existing confusion in the terminology and interpretations; and secondly to shed some light on a desirable classification and conceptualization of ecosystem services for valuation. To illustrate this, we present an examination of existing primary valuation studies of water related services provided by tropical forests, which we analyze under the MEA classification framework and compare it with an output-based classification, in which the service is defined in terms of its benefits (outputs) to humans. Our results support the idea that an output-based classification should provide more accurate values and could help avoid certain problems such as double accounting and potential underestimation of services values.

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  • Elena Ojea & Julia Martin-Ortega & Aline Chiabai, 2010. "Classifying Ecosystem Services for Economic Valuation: The case of forest water services," Working Papers 2010-12, BC3.
  • Handle: RePEc:bcc:wpaper:2010-12

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. de Groot, Rudolf S. & Wilson, Matthew A. & Boumans, Roelof M. J., 2002. "A typology for the classification, description and valuation of ecosystem functions, goods and services," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(3), pages 393-408, June.
    2. Johnson, Nancy L. & Baltodano, Maria Eugenia, 2004. "The economics of community watershed management: some evidence from Nicaragua," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 57-71, May.
    3. Kosoy, Nicolas & Martinez-Tuna, Miguel & Muradian, Roldan & Martinez-Alier, Joan, 2007. "Payments for environmental services in watersheds: Insights from a comparative study of three cases in Central America," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 61(2-3), pages 446-455, March.
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    1. repec:dau:papers:123456789/13032 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Selomane, Odirilwe & Reyers, Belinda & Biggs, Reinette & Tallis, Heather & Polasky, Stephen, 2015. "Towards integrated social–ecological sustainability indicators: Exploring the contribution and gaps in existing global data," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 118(C), pages 140-146.
    3. 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.
    4. Julia Martin-Ortega & Elena Ojea & Camille Roux, 2012. "Payments for Water Ecosystem Services in Latin America: Evidence from Reported Experience," Working Papers 2012-14, BC3.
    5. McVittie, Alistair & Norton, Lisa & Martin-Ortega, Julia & Siameti, Ioanna & Glenk, Klaus & Aalders, Inge, 2015. "Operationalizing an ecosystem services-based approach using Bayesian Belief Networks: An application to riparian buffer strips," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 110(C), pages 15-27.

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    ecosystem services; Millennium Ecosystems Approach; water services; tropical forests;

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