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Valuing Ecosystem Services: The Case of Multi-functional Wetlands

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:

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
Valuing Ecosystem Services: The Case of Multi-functional Wetlands
Authors: R. Kerry Turner, Stavros Georgiou, and Brendan Fisher

Paperback: 229 Pages, £24.99
Publisher: Earthscan Publications, 2011
December 2010

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.

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