Conserving and Valuing Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity: Economic, Institutional and Social Challenges provides a much needed survey reflecting upon recent institutional experience yielding analysis that concludes that there exists financially rigorous rationale to justify conservation of biodiversity for economic reasons, above and beyond the usual rationale of conservation only for biodiversity, spiritual or ethical reasons. The authors by comparing the results from various economic valuation techniques such as contingent valuation (CVM),
willingness to pay (WTP), total economic value (TEV), and other methods yield the same result, and that result is that conservation of biodiversity, from the individual species to the landscape level, pays significant financial dividends.
Yet, one of the key focus areas needing further study in our emerging field of environmental economics, as repeatedly referenced throughout Conserving and Valuing Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity: Economic, Institutional and Social Challenges, is the capacity to develop standardized and systematic cross-sectoral approaches if we are going to develop consistent pricing mechanisms for conservation activities. Institutional efforts such as the Business and Biodiversity Offsets Program BBOP are leading the way currently in this endeavor by developing biodiversity offset case studies based on biodiversity offset project development activities.
For example, this means that if we apply the WTP method as a tool to value wolves in the northern US, can we then also apply the results from this study to how wolves may be valued in Sweden, and then design public policy mechanisms appropriately. Between 1990 to 1994 various researchers, (Duffield 1991; Duffield 1992; Duffield et al 1993; USDOI 1994) analyzed how much money local households adjacent to Yellowstone National Park and visitors to Yellowstone National Park would pay as a one-time fee to fund the reintroduction of the Gray Wolf (Canis lupus). In these studies valuation of the reintroduced Gray Wolf varied, with household and visitor response sample sizes ranging from 121 to 345 individuals. The studies concluded through applying the WTP valuation method that the value of each Gray Wolf ranged from US$ 21.90 to US$ 162.10 (constant 2006 US$). This is the amount that the households and visitors who responded to the survey were willing to pay as a one-time fee to fund Gray Wolf reintroduction. As a follow-up, in 2005 Duffield again analyzed the Gray Wolf economic impact in the Greater Yellowstone National Park area and found that the TEV of Gray Wolf reintroduction was roughly “$35.5 million (confidence interval of $22.4 to $48.6 million)” and that it was consistent with the TEV values forecasted by the original models from 1991 to 1994 (Duffield, Neher & Patterson 2008). Yet, in asimilar study conducted in Sweden (Boman & Bostedt 1999), the valuation to avoid the loss or local extinction of the Gray Wolf with a sample size ranging from 1072 to 1221 households was an annual payment of US$ 63.49 to US$ 122.80.
These large differences in the valuation of the Gray Wolf whether for reintroduction or for avoided local extinction, for example, from a single payment of US$ 21.90 to an annual payment of US$ 122.80, as explained by the authors, describe the need for the development of consistent biodiversity conservation relative valuation techniques. Furthermore, it would add significantly if the valuation process to back test results as seen in the context of the Gray Wolf in Yellowstone National Park were standardized. Techniques such as these would allow for the comparison of the financial impact of conservation across landscapes, geographies, cultures and species, possibly resulting in increased revenue more effectively deployed to conserve our amazing Earth’s valuable and inspirational biodiversity.
How to order:
How to order
Publisher: Earthscan, 2010
Paperback: 432 pages, $49.95
Edited by K. N. Ninan with foreword by Dr Achim Steiner
Gabriel Thoumi frequently contributes to Mongabay.com.
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