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Effective Conservation ScienceData Not Dogma$
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Peter Kareiva, Michelle Marvier, and Brian Silliman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198808978

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198808978.001.0001

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The value of ecosystem services

The value of ecosystem services

What is the evidence?

Chapter:
(p.19) Chapter 3 The value of ecosystem services
Source:
Effective Conservation Science
Author(s):

Linus Blomqvist

R. David Simpson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198808978.003.0003

This chapter investigates whether the growing enthusiasm for ecosystem services recently expressed by conservation NGOs and international institutions is supported by evidence. Ecosystem services—the benefits humans receive from nature—have become the darlings of conservation on the assumption that the valuation of selected services may justify protecting land. A critical examination of a random sample of monetary valuations for regulating ecosystem services such as pollution treatment, finds that only onethird can be considered reliable, and that only ten percent of monetary value estimates can be transferred to other contexts. This suggests that the overall evidence base for assigning monetary value to nature is limited. Furthermore, diminishing returns, high opportunity costs, and technological substitutes might limit the amount of conservation that can be justified on the basis financial assessments of ecosystem services. As such, this chapter concludes that ecosystem services as a conservation strategy should not be embraced uncritically.

Keywords:   benefit transfer, economic valuation, ecosystem services, natural capital, opportunity costs, replacement cost

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