Valuing Ecosystem Services: The Case of Multi-functional Wetlands provides the clearest guide yet to describing and implementing in a systematic fashion payments for ecosystems services (PES) strategies for wetland protection mechanisms. By focusing initially on frameworks and obstacles to implementation of wetland protection strategies such as property rights, measuring and monitoring, behavior and compensation, cultural barriers and external factors, the authors posit that is possible to effectively value multi-functional wetlands.
Some multi-functional wetlands services include nutrient cycling, water regulation, food web support, clean water provisions, and ecosystem maintenance, amongst others.
Given the framework presented in this book by the authors, by applying the ecosystem services approach (ESApp) total economic value (TEV) can be calculated for a multi-functional wetland with minimal double-counting errors. The ESApp approach starts by indentifying and scaling the ecosystem services of the wetland project within a specific boundary. This is called the scoping stage which includes activities such as spatial and temporal mapping, choosing the ecosystem services to be considered, developing an understanding of the intermediate and final services and benefits, and finally mapping out social, community and economic impacts.
Next mapping and modeling of the above variables needs to occur integrating the following layers:
- Service production layer including biophysical conditions and processes
- Service flow layer including production, topography, and land cover
- Benefits layer including ecosystem service flow, demographic and land use characteristics
- Value layer including economic valuation studies
- Governance layer including formal and informal land tenure, use, rights and resource management issues
The integration of the above layers creates a baseline scenario, which is then adjusted for various scenarios yielding an environmental change scenario. The final step is then compare the economic value between the baseline scenario and the environmental chance scenario, creating a total economic value.
For example, in applying this type of analysis, researchers have calculated the economic value from the ongoing efforts to restore the Everglades in the southern part of Florida in the United States to be approximately between US$ 46.5 billion up to US$ 123.9 billion while providing employment for up to 442,664 additional workers over 50 years. Given restoration costs of approximately US$ 11 billion, this implies that the benefit to cost ratio is greater 4 times. This is a significant economic return that facilitates water supply protection, improved real estate valuation, increased tourism and recreational opportunities, fishing industry recovery, and improved wildlife populations and habitat for hunting.
In conclusion, valuing multi-functional wetlands allows us to plan activities to restore ecosystems while developing supporting economic analysis that demonstrates the ecological and financial return to impacted communities.
How to order
Authors: R. Kerry Turner, Stavros Georgiou, and Brendan Fisher
Paperback: 229 Pages, £24.99
Publisher: Earthscan Publications, 2011
Gabriel Thoumi, Project Developer, Forest Carbon Offsets LLC, provides forest carbon project development and sustainable finance consulting integrating both the carbon and capital markets. He has consulted on 20 forest carbon projects globally applying multiple forest carbon standards and methodologies, and he frequently lectures and publishes on the same topics globally.
(05/03/2011) With over 200 million forested hectares in 60 countries transferred to community forest management over the past 20 years, this much needed book edited by Margaret Skutsch funded through the Kyoto: Think Global Act Local program (K:TGAL), provides not only various insights into how local communities and indigenous stakeholders can be engaged in community forest carbon project development and monitoring, it furthermore provides a valuable framework and models from which to discuss and analyze successful implementation of community forest carbon projects.
(04/19/2011) Conservation projects at the landscape level in the tropics often require collaborative governance because there are many factors that may be involved with conserving and enhancing the ecosystem services with a landscape-based project. Yet as eloquently described in Collaborative Governance of Tropical Landscapes, significant issues remain in designing and implementing effective collaborative governance models for tropical landscapes.
(04/14/2011) Because recent research has shown that it is often the case that mangroves store more carbon than tropical forests–from 90 tons to 588 tons carbon from above-ground and below-ground biomass combined with net primary productivity of 7 to 25 tons carbon annually–while providing an estimated ecosystem services value of up to US$ 9270 per hectare per year, the timely publication of the World Atlas of Mangroves is an excellent reference for those of us working to protect mangroves globally. With information sourced from 1400 literature references, the atlas gives the reader the information they need so as to further understand mangrove ecosystems, and the opportunities to develop mangrove ecosystem conservation and carbon projects.