Ecosystem Services and Their Economic and Social Value

Authored by: Jason Scorse , Judith Kildow

Routledge Handbook of Ocean Resources and Management

Print publication date:  October  2015
Online publication date:  October  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415531757
eBook ISBN: 9780203115398
Adobe ISBN: 9781136294822


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The concept of “ecosystem services valuation” has become an important theoretical construct for linking ecosystem functions to human well-being, using basic principles of natural science combined with welfare economics (as well as contributions from psychology, sociology, and even more recently, neuroscience). It is important to recognize that ecosystem services are valued using inherently anthropocentric methods— nature is afforded no intrinsic value. The socioeconomic value of an ecological resource depends solely on the value humans derive from that resource. This value may be direct—in the case of fish harvested from the sea—or indirect—in the case of water filtration provided by wetlands. It is the indirect ecosystem services that are frequently overlooked in planning and decision-making since they often require sophisticated scientific understanding, and provide value to human society through complex mechanisms and interactions.

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