Economic valuation of ecosystem services in Mexico: Current status and trends
Using various sources of information, we reviewed the literature about the economic valuation of ecosystem services in Mexico. The objectives were to analyze the diversity and consistency of value estimations, identify research gaps, and suggest directions for future research. We found 43 studies that used non-market valuation methods to estimate the economic benefits of 24 types of ecosystem services. The most evaluated service was recreation, followed by water and food resources. Contingent valuation was the most cited method, followed by travel cost and choice experiment methods. While the number of studies is encouraging, many important ecosystem services still remain unnoticed and are not accounting towards the total economic value (e.g. pollination, medicine, bioenergy, etc.). In addition, the majority of studies revealed a lack of validity tests, which challenges the reliability of results. Hypothetical bias and the embedding effect are serious problems that must be addressed in future stated preference studies. Considering the issues reviewed here, we believe that the scientific community in Mexico should keep doing more research on economic valuation. This information can help to transit from hypothetical to real markets and to highlight the critical role of ecosystem services in society.