COS 138-2 - CANCELLED - Approaches to valuing ecosystem services in production landscapes in southeastern Australia

Friday, August 12, 2011: 8:20 AM
18B, Austin Convention Center
Himlal Baral1, Rodney J. Keenan2, Julian C. Fox1, Nigel E. Stork2 and Sabine Kasel1, (1)Department of Forest and Ecosystem Science, The University of Melbourne, Australia, (2)Melbourne School of Land and Environment, The University of Melbourne, Australia

Production landscapes provide a wide range of economic, social and environmental goods and services in Australia. Certain goods and services have clearly established monetary values and others do not have such values and are generally not accounted for in the decision calculus. The valuation of ecosystem services can play an important role in natural resource conservation planning and ecosystem-based management of production landscapes. The objective of this paper is to review recent approaches to valuing ecosystem services, identify appropriate approaches to various settings, and apply these approaches to value ecosystem services in two different types of production landscape in southeastern Australia.

For the purpose of this study we used a land use/cover map, associated vegetation types and a list of ecosystem services identified from a preceding study carried out on the same landscape. First, we reviewed current approaches to valuing selected ecosystem goods and services such as timber, pasture and agricultural commodity production, carbon storage and sequestration, and water regulation from production landscapes. Second, these services were valued using both market and non-market valuation techniques. As gathering primary, site-specific data is costly and time-consuming, we also applied a popular alternate approach to value ecosystem services, commonly known as ‘environmental value transfer’ (applying economic value estimates from one location to similar site in another location).


The estimated economic value for each ecosystem service was transferred to a land use/cover map to demonstrate the annual flow of ecosystem services in the study site. We found that estimating the economic value of ecosystem services that are readily bought and sold in markets is relatively straightforward. Even though we paid careful attention, the value estimated from the environmental value transfer is susceptible to error since we used the same estimated value per hectare to all areas having similar land-cover or habitat type. This is mainly due to the lack of adequate valuation studies that completely match the study site. We expect that this work will highlight research avenues to advance ecosystem services frameworks in multifunctional production landscapes in Australia and elsewhere.

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