Valuing Ecosystem Services
The value of the services provided top human societies by natural ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles has recently been the topic of discussion and research. Here I review some of the basic economic principles necessary for understanding some of the questions that arise in this area. I argue that even with the best possible data and scientific understanding, the sense in which economists can value nature's services is limited. I also argue that valuing these services is much less important than providing incentives for their conservation, and that valuation and providing incentives for conservation are quite different. Valuation is neither necessary nor sufficient for conservation, whereas providing the right incentives is.
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