ECOSYSTEMS L1/2- Ecosystem Services Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in ECOSYSTEMS L1/2- Ecosystem Services Deck (26):

What is natural capital?

Elements of nature that directly or indirectly produce value to people


What are natural stocks?

Sustainable capital assets


What are natural flows?

Services derived from stocks


What is an ecosystem?

A biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment


What are ecosystem services?

The benefits people obtain from ecosystems


What are the 4 categories of ESS?

1) Provisioning
2) Regulating
3) Cultural
4) Supporting


What are direct drivers of ecosystem change?

1) Changes in land use
2) Species introduction/removal
3) Technology adaptation/use
4) Resource consumption
5) Climate change


What are indirect drivers of ecosystem change?

1) Demographic
2) Economics
3) Socio-politics
4) Advancement of technology
5) Culture


What is the relationship between direct/indirect drivers of ecosystem change?

Direct drivers are growing intensely

BUT, ecosystem degradation can rarely be addresses without considering indirect drivers of change.


What is often the result of improving one type of ESS?

Enhancing some ESS can degrade others

E.g. increasing agricultural production:
i) decreased forest cover
ii) increased GHGs
iii) decreased biodiversity
iiii) increased water use


Who is impacted the most from changing ESS?

Poor and marginalised people are the most dependent upon ESS- thus the most vulnerable to degradation or privatisation.

Women are particularly vulnerable.


What is the problem with marginalised people being the most vulnerable to ESS change?

The resilience of these groups is rarely measured- thus typically overlooked in environmental policy.

BUT.. this is slowly being changed- this problem was involved in the MDGs and SDGs


Who assesses ESS?

Stakeholders determine the relevant ESS and its boundaries


What type of stakeholders exist?

1) those who are direct benefiters
2) those who are negatively affected
3) those who have an impact on ESS
4) those who indirectly influence ESS


What is the problem with assessing ESS?

1) Stakeholders exist on different scales (spatial and temporal). Therefore, there will always be overlapping interests and thus conflict.

2) ESS assessment is subjective- it is challenging to determine the boundaries


Why is assessing ESS important?

1) to reveal the interests of different stakeholders

2) acts as a basis to establish compensation payments

3) to provide insight into the appropriate institutional scales for decision making in management


Why should we value nature?

1) Nature is valuable
This allows nature to be involved into policy and decision making. As a result, negative effects associated with ESS change can be distributed more evenly.

2) Valuation is science
In theory, such analysis would prevent political distortion- leading to better planning and engagement.

3) A communication strategy
Valuing nature teaches us about its role in our lives. Money is and understandable concept to literally everybody- connecting nature to this will help us realise its value.


What is the problem with assigning monetary value to nature?

Many benefits of ESS are invisible to market valuations- eventhough the majority of these benefits are more valuable than those with monetary value (i.e. air circulation).


What principles are valuation methods based upon?

1) Willingness to pay
The amount an individual is willing to pay to avoid the degradation of an ESS

2) Willingness to accept
The amount an individual would accept as compensation for the degradation of an ESS


What methods can be used to value ESS?

1) Market price

2) Productivity method
Estimates economic activity values for ESS that contribute towards a marketable good

3) Hedonic valuation
How much happiness is gained from an ESS

4) Travel costs
How much would you pay to travel to X and visit Y?

5) Benefit transfer mehod
What is the cost to visit X compared to Y?

6) Avoided damage/replacement costs


What are the benefits of the ESS approach?

1) ESS is a concept and framework for understanding the ways in which nature benefits people

2) Supports decision making and valuation of ESS

3) Supports sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems- this leads to better human well-being


What are the drawbacks of the ESS approach?

1) Philosophical concerns
i) obscures duties and obligations
ii) nature is priceless- attempting to assign monetary value debases nature
iii) valuing ESS is difficult and subjective

2) Practical concerns
i) inprecise and flawed methods of valuation
ii) depletion of ESS is not accounted for
iii) some ESS cannot be valued in terms of markets


Constanza et al. (1997)

ESS are critical to the functioning of Earth systems, human welfare and economy. However, many values of ESS are not captured in markets and therefore have little weighting in environmental policy.

Valuing ESS is a vital process to establish a global value of ecosystems, set up frameworks and stimulate research for further valuation.

We need to recognise that we DO value ESS everyday. For example, we spend more on construction if it would potentially save a human life. Ultimately the decisions we make as a society about ecosystems necessarily imply value. HOWEVER, this is not necessarily always expressed in monetary terms.


Houses of Parliament (2007)

Ecosystems exists on a wide range of scales- from long term, global systems (oceans) to localised, systems that only exist for short periods (freshwater pools).

Humans have modified ecosystems more in the last 50 years than ever- this threatens human welfare and the environment. We must recognise that some ESS are irreplaceable. Climate regulation, for example.

The Total Economic Value (TEV) framework views ESS as flows of benefits from natural capital to humans. Value is assigned through the ways in which ESS support use value (consumption) and intangible benefits.


Houses of Parliament (2011)

Problems with valuing ESS:
1) the capacity to value ESS depends entirely on whether they are used- this is subjective
2) we must distinguish between benefits and values- different benefits will be valued differently depending upon context
3) subjectivity may cause conflict between stakeholder


Houses of Parliament (2016)

Natural capital= elements of nature that produce value to people. Valuing natural capital can help manage environmental risks and inform decisions. BUT challenges do exist...
1) financial, environmental and social data
2) the UK's use of natural capital for overseas