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Journal ArticleDOI

The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital

15 May 1997-Nature (Nature Publishing Group)-Vol. 387, Iss: 6630, pp 253-260

Abstract: The services of ecological systems and the natural capital stocks that produce them are critical to the functioning of the Earth's life-support system. They contribute to human welfare, both directly and indirectly, and therefore represent part of the total economic value of the planet. We have estimated the current economic value of 17 ecosystem services for 16 biomes, based on published studies and a few original calculations. For the entire biosphere, the value (most of which is outside the market) is estimated to be in the range of US$16-54 trillion (10^(12)) per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year. Because of the nature of the uncertainties, this must be considered a minimum estimate. Global gross national product total is around US$18 trillion per year.
Citations
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Journal ArticleDOI
Osvaldo E. Sala1, F. S. Chapin2, Juan J. Armesto3, Eric L. Berlow4  +15 moreInstitutions (14)
10 Mar 2000-Science
TL;DR: This study identified a ranking of the importance of drivers of change, aranking of the biomes with respect to expected changes, and the major sources of uncertainties in projections of future biodiversity change.
Abstract: Scenarios of changes in biodiversity for the year 2100 can now be developed based on scenarios of changes in atmospheric carbon dioxide, climate, vegetation, and land use and the known sensitivity of biodiversity to these changes. This study identified a ranking of the importance of drivers of change, a ranking of the biomes with respect to expected changes, and the major sources of uncertainties. For terrestrial ecosystems, land-use change probably will have the largest effect, followed by climate change, nitrogen deposition, biotic exchange, and elevated carbon dioxide concentration. For freshwater ecosystems, biotic exchange is much more important. Mediterranean climate and grassland ecosystems likely will experience the greatest proportional change in biodiversity because of the substantial influence of all drivers of biodiversity change. Northern temperate ecosystems are estimated to experience the least biodiversity change because major land-use change has already occurred. Plausible changes in biodiversity in other biomes depend on interactions among the causes of biodiversity change. These interactions represent one of the largest uncertainties in projections of future biodiversity change.

7,686 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
01 May 2006-Biological Reviews
TL;DR: This article explores the special features of freshwater habitats and the biodiversity they support that makes them especially vulnerable to human activities and advocates continuing attempts to check species loss but urges adoption of a compromise position of management for biodiversity conservation, ecosystem functioning and resilience, and human livelihoods.
Abstract: Freshwater biodiversity is the over-riding conservation priority during the International Decade for Action - 'Water for Life' - 2005 to 2015. Fresh water makes up only 0.01% of the World's water and approximately 0.8% of the Earth's surface, yet this tiny fraction of global water supports at least 100000 species out of approximately 1.8 million - almost 6% of all described species. Inland waters and freshwater biodiversity constitute a valuable natural resource, in economic, cultural, aesthetic, scientific and educational terms. Their conservation and management are critical to the interests of all humans, nations and governments. Yet this precious heritage is in crisis. Fresh waters are experiencing declines in biodiversity far greater than those in the most affected terrestrial ecosystems, and if trends in human demands for water remain unaltered and species losses continue at current rates, the opportunity to conserve much of the remaining biodiversity in fresh water will vanish before the 'Water for Life' decade ends in 2015. Why is this so, and what is being done about it? This article explores the special features of freshwater habitats and the biodiversity they support that makes them especially vulnerable to human activities. We document threats to global freshwater biodiversity under five headings: overexploitation; water pollution; flow modification; destruction or degradation of habitat; and invasion by exotic species. Their combined and interacting influences have resulted in population declines and range reduction of freshwater biodiversity worldwide. Conservation of biodiversity is complicated by the landscape position of rivers and wetlands as 'receivers' of land-use effluents, and the problems posed by endemism and thus non-substitutability. In addition, in many parts of the world, fresh water is subject to severe competition among multiple human stakeholders. Protection of freshwater biodiversity is perhaps the ultimate conservation challenge because it is influenced by the upstream drainage network, the surrounding land, the riparian zone, and - in the case of migrating aquatic fauna - downstream reaches. Such prerequisites are hardly ever met. Immediate action is needed where opportunities exist to set aside intact lake and river ecosystems within large protected areas. For most of the global land surface, trade-offs between conservation of freshwater biodiversity and human use of ecosystem goods and services are necessary. We advocate continuing attempts to check species loss but, in many situations, urge adoption of a compromise position of management for biodiversity conservation, ecosystem functioning and resilience, and human livelihoods in order to provide a viable long-term basis for freshwater conservation. Recognition of this need will require adoption of a new paradigm for biodiversity protection and freshwater ecosystem management - one that has been appropriately termed 'reconciliation ecology'.

4,936 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Abstract: An increasing amount of information is being collected on the ecological and socio-economic value of goods and services provided by natural and semi-natural ecosystems. However, much of this information appears scattered throughout a disciplinary academic literature, unpublished government agency reports, and across the World Wide Web. In addition, data on ecosystem goods and services often appears at incompatible scales of analysis and is classified differently by different authors. In order to make comparative ecological economic analysis possible, a standardized framework for the comprehensive assessment of ecosystem functions, goods and services is needed. In response to this challenge, this paper presents a conceptual framework and typology for describing, classifying and valuing ecosystem functions, goods and services in a clear and consistent manner. In the following analysis, a classification is given for the fullest possible range of 23 ecosystem functions that provide a much larger number of goods and services. In the second part of the paper, a checklist and matrix is provided, linking these ecosystem functions to the main ecological, socio–cultural and economic valuation methods.

3,729 citations


Cites background or methods from "The value of the world's ecosystem ..."

  • ...Based on a synthesis-study by Costanza et al. (1997), using over 100 literature studies, Table 2 gives an overview of the link between these valuation methods and the 23 functions described in this paper....

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  • ...1) Dollar values are based on Costanza et al., (1997) and apply to different ecosystems (eg....

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  • ...Use of nature for scientific researchvalue Adapted from Costanza et al. (1997), De Groot (1992), De Groot et al. (2000). tributed to a certain ecosystem type are excluded, e.g. wind and solar-energy....

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  • ...Based on a synthesis study by Costanza et al. (1997), using over 100 literature studies, Table 2 gives an overview of the link between these valuation methods and the 23 functions described in this paper....

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  • ...Aesthetic information can have considerable economic importance, for example, through the influence on real estate prices: houses near national parks or with a nice ocean view are usually much more expensive than similar houses in less favored areas (Costanza et al., 1997)....

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Journal ArticleDOI
11 May 2000-Nature
TL;DR: The large ecological and societal consequences of changing biodiversity should be minimized to preserve options for future solutions to global environmental problems.
Abstract: Human alteration of the global environment has triggered the sixth major extinction event in the history of life and caused widespread changes in the global distribution of organisms. These changes in biodiversity alter ecosystem processes and change the resilience of ecosystems to environmental change. This has profound consequences for services that humans derive from ecosystems. The large ecological and societal consequences of changing biodiversity should be minimized to preserve options for future solutions to global environmental problems.

3,713 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
21 Jan 2000-Science
TL;DR: These phenomena have two major biological implications: many wildlife species are reservoirs of pathogens that threaten domestic animal and human health; second, wildlife EIDs pose a substantial threat to the conservation of global biodiversity.
Abstract: Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) of free-living wild animals can be classified into three major groups on the basis of key epizootiological criteria: (i) EIDs associated with “spill-over” from domestic animals to wildlife populations living in proximity; (ii) EIDs related directly to human intervention, via host or parasite translocations; and (iii) EIDs with no overt human or domestic animal involvement. These phenomena have two major biological implications: first, many wildlife species are reservoirs of pathogens that threaten domestic animal and human health; second, wildlife EIDs pose a substantial threat to the conservation of global biodiversity.

3,426 citations


References
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Book
01 Mar 1989-
Abstract: Economists and others have long believed that by balancing the costs of such public goods as air quality and wilderness areas against their benefits, informed policy choices can be made. But the problem of putting a dollar value on cleaner air or water and other goods not sold in the marketplace has been a major stumbling block. Mitchell and Carson, for reasons presented in this book, argue that at this time the contingent valuation (CV) method offers the most promising approach for determining public willingness to pay for many public goods---an approach likely to succeed, if used carefully, where other methods may fail. The result of ten years of research by the authors aimed at assessing how surveys might best be used to value public goods validly and reliably, this book makes a major contribution to what constitutes best practice in CV surveys. Mitchell and Carson begin by introducing the contingent valuation method, describing how it works and the nature of the benefits it can be used to measure, comparing it to other methods for measuring benefits, and examining the data-gathering technique on which it is based---survey research. Placing contingent valuation in the larger context of welfare theory, the authors examine how the CV method impels a deeper understanding of willingness-to-pay versus willingness-to-accept compensation measures, the possibility of existence values for public goods, the role of uncertainty in benefit valuation, and the question of whether a consumer goods market or a political goods market (referenda) should be emulated. In developing a CV methodology, the authors deal with issues of broader significance to survey research. Their model of respondent error is relevant to current efforts to frame a theory of response behavior and bias typology will interest those considering the cognitive aspects of answering survey questions. Mitchell and Carson conclude that the contingent valuation method can obtain valid valuation information on public goods, but only if the method is applied in a way that addresses the potential sources of error and bias. They end their book by providing guidelines for CV practitioners, a list of questions that should be asked by any decision maker who wishes to use the findings of a CV study, and suggestions for new applications of contingent valuation. Additional features include a comprehensive bibliography of the CV literature and an appendix summarizing more than 100 CV studies.

5,442 citations


"The value of the world's ecosystem ..." refers background in this paper

  • ...(9) We have not incorporated the ‘infrastructure’ value of ecosystems, as noted above, leading to an underestimation of the total value....

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Journal ArticleDOI
23 Jan 1998-The Bryologist
TL;DR: Nature's Services brings together world-renowned scientists from a variety of disciplines to examine the character and value of ecosystem services, the damage that has been done to them, and the consequent implications for human society.
Abstract: Life itself as well as the entire human economy depends on goods and services provided by earth's natural systems. The processes of cleansing, recycling, and renewal, along with goods such as seafood, forage, and timber, are worth many trillions of dollars annually, and nothing could live without them. Yet growing human impacts on the environment are profoundly disrupting the functioning of natural systems and imperiling the delivery of these services.Nature's Services brings together world-renowned scientists from a variety of disciplines to examine the character and value of ecosystem services, the damage that has been done to them, and the consequent implications for human society. Contributors including Paul R. Ehrlich, Donald Kennedy, Pamela A. Matson, Robert Costanza, Gary Paul Nabhan, Jane Lubchenco, Sandra Postel, and Norman Myers present a detailed synthesis of our current understanding of a suite of ecosystem services and a preliminary assessment of their economic value. Chapters consider: major services including climate regulation, soil fertility, pollination, and pest control philosophical and economic issues of valuation case studies of specific ecosystems and services implication of recent findings and steps that must be taken to address the most pressing concerns Nature's Services represents one of the first efforts by scientists to provide an overview of the many benefits and services that nature offers to people and the extent to which we are all vitally dependent on those services. The book enhances our understanding of the value of the natural systems that surround us and can play an essential role in encouraging greater efforts to protect the earth's basic life-support systems before it is too late. -- publisher's description

3,558 citations


Book
01 Jan 1989-
Abstract: The scale of human activity in the biosphere has grown too large. The perspective is that change is needed in the approach to economic activity: "correction and expansion a more empirical and historical attitude less pretense on being science and willingness to subordinate the market to purposes that it is not geared to determine." The economic proposal is concerned with the extent to which the economy supports healthy communities; it is related to the 19th-century Roman Catholic economic theory of Pesch. It is critical of contemporary economics and reflects the concerns of an economist and a theologian. The 4 parts to the books differentiate between the present state of economics as a deductive science and the consequences for the market measures of success homoeconomicus and the land in Part I and an alternative approach in Part II. The alternative is not to shape economics to science but to the realities of the world with the idea that better abstractions will evolve. Part III addresses policies in the US and their implications. Part IV pertains to the attainment of the objectives in an alternative economy. The vision is participatory and sustainable. The appendix provides an index of sustainable welfare between 1950-86 annually which includes net capital growth foreign versus domestic capital and environmental damage; there are 24 separate measures to show how to improve welfare. The caveats and limitations are also discussed. Also included for 1950-86 annually is an index of income inequality the value of services and highways public expenditures on health and education counted as personal consumption defensive private expenditures on health and education the cost of commuting the cost of urbanization the cost of air pollution the loss of agricultural land energy consumption as a measure of longterm environmental damage and net capital growth. The results show that the true health of the economy is discouraging. The generalized income measure/capita increased .84%/year between 1951-60 increased 2.01% between 1960-70 or .50% slower than the gross national product growth for the same period declined .14% between 1970-80 and declined 1.26% during the 1980s. This pattern is stable even with the exclusion of resource depletion and environmental damage.

1,714 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Daniel Pauly1, Villy ChristensenInstitutions (1)
01 Jul 1995-Nature
Abstract: THE mean of reported annual world fisheries catches for 1988-1991 (94.3 million t) was split into 39 species groups, to which fractional trophic levels, ranging from 1.0 (edible algae) to 4.2 (tunas), were assigned, based on 48 published trophic models, providing a global coverage of six major aquatic ecosystem types. The primary production required to sustain each group of species was then computed based on a mean energy transfer efficiency between trophic levels of 10%, a value that was reestimated rather than assumed. The primary production required to sustain the reported catches, plus 27 million t of discarded bycatch, amounted to 8.0% of global aquatic primary production, nearly four times the previous estimate. By ecosystem type, the requirements were only 2% for open ocean systems, but ranged from 24 to 35% in fresh water, upwelling and shelf systems, justifying current concerns for sustainability and biodiversity.

1,456 citations


Journal ArticleDOI
Robert Costanza1, Herman E. Daly2Institutions (2)
Abstract: A minimum necessary condition for sustainability is the maintenance of the total natural capital stock at or above the current level. While a lower stock of natural capital may be sustainable, society can allow no further decline in natural capital given the large uncertainty and the dire consequences of guessing wrong. This “constancy of total natural capital” rule can thus be seen as a prudent minimum condition for assuring sustainability, to be relaxed only when solid evidence can be offered that it is safe to do so. We discuss methodological issues concerning the degree of substitutability of manufactured for natural capital, quantifying ecosystem services and natural capital, and the role of the discount rate in valuing natural capital. We differentiate the concepts of growth (material increase in size) and development (improvement in organization without size change). Given these definitions, growth cannot the sustainable indefinitely on a finite planet. Development may be sustainable, but even this aspect of change may have some limits. One problem is that current measures of economic well-being at the macro level (i.e., the Gross National Product) measure mainly growth, or at best conflate growth and development. This urgently requires revision. Finally, we suggest some principles of sustainable development and describe why maintaining natural capital stocks is a prudent and achievable policy for insuring sustainable development. There is disagreement between technological optimists (who see technical progress as eliminating all resource constraints to growth and development) and technological skeptics (who do not see as much scope for this approach and fear irreversible use of resources and damage to natural capital). By maintaining natural capital stocks (preferably by using a natural capital depletion tax), we can satisfy both the skeptics (since resources will be conserved for future generations) and the optimists (since this will raise the price of natural capital depletion and more rapidly induce the technical change they predict).

1,400 citations


Additional excerpts

  • ...(7) To avoid double counting, a general equilibrium framework that could directly incorporate the interdependence between ecosystem functions and services would be preferred to the partial equilibrium framework used in this study (see below)....

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