Q.1.What are the main reasons for the need to assign value to ecosystem services? What are the disadvantages of putting a value on ecosystem services?
Ecosystem services are the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species that make them up, sustain and fulfill human life. They maintain biodiversity and production of ecosystem goods, such as seafood forage, timber, biomass fuels, natural fiber and many pharmaceuticals, industrial products, and their precursors. In addition to the production of goods, ecosystem services are the actual life support functions such as cleansing recycling and renewal and they confer many intangible aesthetic and cultural belief as well (Gretchen C.Daily ed., 1997). Ecosystem services are the benefits provided to humans through the transformations of resources (or environmental assets, including land, water, vegetation and atmosphere) into a flow of essential goods and services e.g. clean air, water and food (Constanza et al. 1997).
From an economic point of view, things are assigned valuable if they are for human utility. Ecosystem services are unique as they are of either direct utility or indirect utility. Ecosystem goods and services that are of direct utility include, the air we breathe, natural temperatures, UV protection and a landscape view (Spring, 2007). It is sensible to ask why to estimate the value of ecosystem services? The answer to this question is that whether to protect or degrade the ecosystem services. If an ecosystem service is regarded as free there will be no incentive to value its specific role or use. Hence, underestimating of many ecosystem services and, the valuing of only a narrow range of services, has led to pattern of unsustainable resource use resulting in environmental degradation. Modern environmental governance uses market instruments to reduce over consumption and under protection of resources (Jordan et al., 2003).
There are various methods of putting a value on ecosystem services and each method comes with some advantages and limitations. Valuing ecosystem services can lead to the exploitation of ecosystem services. It can risk creating perverse incentives, Redford and Adam warn. For example: If the system pay landowners to bank carbon, they may plant non-native species or genetically improved trees, to bank carbon faster. Or they may discourage natural phenomena that happen to be good for biodiversity but bad for people, including such ecosystem disservices as fire, drought, disease or flood (Richard Conniff, 2012). The Economic way to deal with environmental evaluation comprehends ecosystem as list of physical properties which guarantee the conveyance of certain services to human society but they often fail to capture the profoundly important role of natural, cultural, and personal history in our relationship to nature.
Q 2. What are the practical difficulties in establishing values of ecosystem services?
A key challenge in any valuation is imperfect information. Individual might, for example, place no value on an ecosystem service if they do not know the role that the service is playing in affecting their well-being (Norton & Noonan 2007).Another key challenge is accurately measuring the functioning of the system to correctly quantify the amount of a given service derived from that system (Groot et al. 2002, Barbier 2007). In practice, decision making often takes place at the local or regional level and the valuation process need to involve many stakeholders. Mixes of monetary and non-monetary deliberative valuation processes are needed to provide sustainable outcomes (Kenter et.al. 2016). How to deal with the plurality of values that people attach to ecosystem is another big issue while establishing values of ecosystem services.
This essay is all about defining, characterizing ecosystem services, why they are of economic value .Ecosystem services improve human well-being either directly or indirectly affecting our utility. The growing awareness of the importance of ecosystem goods and services not only among scientist but also among policy makers, offers hope that effective policies will be forthcoming(Thomas C. Brown et al. 2007). Ecosystem services are those which arise naturally from nature. Valuation of ecosystem services is widely recognized as a useful though often controversial approach to conservation and management (Rachel D. et al., 2016).There are both advantages and limitations of valuing ecosystem services some of which are discussed above. The rising scarcity of ecosystem services will enhance opportunities for their provision and marketing, assuming that proper legal framework and marketing exist (Thomas C. Brown et al. 2007)
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