Where they dominate coastlines, seagrass beds are thought to have a fundamental role in maintaining populations of exploited species. Thus, Mediterranean seagrass beds are afforded protection, yet no attempt to determine the contribution of these areas to both commercial fisheries landings and recreational fisheries expenditure has been made. There is evidence that seagrass extent continues to decline, but there is little understanding of the potential impacts of this decline. We used a seagrass residency index, that was trait and evidence based, to estimate the proportion of Mediterranean commercial fishery landings values and recreation fisheries total expenditure that can be attributed to seagrass during different life stages. The index was calculated as a weighted sum of the averages of the estimated residence time in seagrass (compared with other habitats) at each life stage of the fishery species found in seagrass. Seagrass-associated species were estimated to contribute 30%–40% to the value of commercial fisheries landings and approximately 29% to recreational fisheries expenditure. These species predominantly rely on seagrass to survive juvenile stages. Seagrass beds had an estimated direct annual contribution during residency of €58–91 million (4% of commercial landing values) and €112 million (6% of recreation expenditure) to commercial and recreational fisheries, respectively, despite covering <2% of the area. These results suggest there is a clear cost of seagrass degradation associated with ineffective management of seagrass beds and that policy to manage both fisheries and seagrass beds should take into account the socioeconomic implications of seagrass loss to recreational and commercial fisheries.
The use and influence of ecosystem services valuation in management decision-making, particularly as it relates to coastal zone management, remains largely unexplored in the academic literature. A recent Australia-wide survey of decision-makers involved in coastal zone management examined if, how and to what extent economic valuation of coastal and marine ecosystem services is used in, and influences, decision-making in Australia. The survey also identified a set of cases where economic valuation of ecosystem services was used for decision-making, and reasons why economic values may or may not be considered in the decision-making process. This paper details the method and results from this survey. Overall, there is strong empirical evidence that economic valuation of ecosystem services is used, but with important variation across coastal and marine management contexts. However, the impact of ecosystem services valuation on policy appears to be globally weak.
Coastal erosion, besides its various environmental impacts, poses a significant threat to coastal economies where the market for tourism services is a key factor for economic growth. So far, a common practise in evaluating the economic implications of beach erosion is to address the cost of coastal protection measures, abstaining from any revenue losses considerations. The present paper departs from this approach by relating the beach erosion vulnerability with the expected land loss and the relevant value from economic activities. The study employs a combined environmental and economic approach along the geographical space. The value of the eroded beach, capitalized in revenues from tourism business, is estimated through hedonic pricing modelling where the beach value is determined by its width and the tourism business located there. The study aims to provide realistic cost-benefit scenarios for the relevant stakeholders and policymakers so as to prioritize and allocate costs and benefits from a “beach governance” point of view, grounded on the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) framework. The empirical investigation presented considers the highly touristic coastal city of Rethymnon on the island of Crete as the study area.
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) mandates that European Union (EU) member states achieve Good Environmental Status (GEnS) based on an ecosystem-based approach to management. For commercial fisheries, the primary target under the MSFD is one of maximum sustainable yield. Of Black Sea riparian nations, only Romania and Bulgaria are EU member states. Focusing at the supranational level, we review institutions and instruments relevant to management of the Black Sea. The economic values of current fish catches are assessed, and the results of a recent analytical assessment of fish stocks are used to estimate potential future values based on maximum sustainable yields. In the Black Sea region, despite long-standing attempts to improve fisheries management, there remains a lack of effective regional cooperation. Evidence from the scenario analysis suggests that achieving GEnS would not have an undue negative impact on overall fishery sector incomes, and could, with appropriate investments in processing and marketing, deliver increased economic benefits for Black Sea countries. The ongoing policy debate between and within Black Sea coastal states needs to be extended to include recognition of the potential economic and social benefits of effective fisheries management. More work is required to assess returns on investment in interim management measures to deliver GEnS.
Ecosystem service research has long been dominated by a monetary interpretation of value, neglecting other social perspectives on the importance of ecosystems for human well-being. Emphasis has been put on individual utility and rational choice, which does not adequately capture the full spectrum of social values of ecosystem services. A socio-cultural approach to value ecosystem services is increasingly advocated and is gaining more attention in the ecosystem service research agenda. The current documentation of socio-cultural perspectives on ecosystem services is, however, characterized by a conflation of the concepts of “cultural ecosystem services” and “socio-cultural values” of ecosystem services. This paper reviews (i) the concept of socio-cultural values within the ecosystem service framework, (ii) the social and ecological factors that determine socio-cultural values, and (iii) the methods by which socio-cultural values can be assessed. The clarifications of the concept of socio-cultural valuation and the structured listing of the available methods facilitate a better integration of socio-cultural values into ecosystem service assessments and help researchers to choose methods from the available portfolio.
An expanding branch of research has estimated the potential costs of climate change, which are often expressed as the “Social Cost of Carbon” (SCC) or the costs of an additional ton of CO2 emissions. Estimates of the SCC can be used by policy makers to evaluate climate change policies and greenhouse gas emission reduction projects by means of cost–benefit analyses (CBAs). Such analyses are complicated by the wide range of SCC values that have been reported in the literature, and the large uncertainties involved in estimating the potential economic impacts and related costs of climate change. This study presents a critical review of the reported SCC estimates by examining some neglected consequences of climate change, uncertain and extreme scenarios of climate change, the discounting of future climate change effects, the treatment of individual risk aversion, and assumptions about social welfare. In view of the many uncertainties and omissions in conventional cost–benefit analyses of climate impacts and the SCC, alternative approaches to decision-making should be considered for climate policy.
Biodiversity is globally recognised as a cornerstone of healthy ecosystems, and biodiversity conservation is increasingly becoming one of the important aims of environmental management. Evaluating the trade-offs of alternative management strategies requires quantitative estimates of the costs and benefits of their outcomes, including the value of biodiversity lost or preserved. This paper takes a decision-analytic standpoint, and reviews and discusses the alternative aspects of biodiversity valuation by dividing them into three categories: socio-cultural, economic, and ecological indicator approaches. We discuss the interplay between these three perspectives and suggest integrating them into an ecosystem-based management (EBM) framework, which permits us to acknowledge ecological systems as a rich mixture of interactive elements along with their social and economic aspects. In this holistic framework, socio-cultural preferences can serve as a tool to identify the ecosystem services most relevant to society, whereas monetary valuation offers more globally comparative and understandable values. Biodiversity indicators provide clear quantitative measures and information about the role of biodiversity in the functioning and health of ecosystems. In the multi-objective EBM approach proposed in the paper, biodiversity indicators serve to define threshold values (i.e., the minimum level required to maintain a healthy environment). An appropriate set of decision-making criteria and the best method for conducting the decision analysis depend on the context and the management problem in question. Therefore, we propose a sequence of steps to follow when quantitatively evaluating environmental management against biodiversity.
Biologists have long recognized environmental disturbances impact both the growth of renewable resources and the efficiency of harvest effort. However, models of renewable resource management under uncertainty have commonly assumed economic and biological uncertainties to be uncorrelated. We present examples of valuable fish species that experience correlated variation in biological growth and catchability, in response to a common environmental disturbance. Building correlation into a model of renewable resource management under uncertainty, we find correlation to alter the optimal response by managers to cost disturbances, and impact the value of retaining intra-period flexibility over harvest targets. Examining the performance of three harvest control mechanisms—harvest quotas, effort quotas, and taxes—reveals that positive correlation between costs and growth favors harvest quotas over effort quotas, and effort quotas over taxes (and vice versa). The model is then applied numerically to the Pacific bigeye tuna fishery, which experiences positively correlated shocks driven by the El Niño Southern Oscillation. Correlation qualitatively changes the optimal response to a cost shock, and harvest quotas are found to be strongly favored over both effort quotas and taxes.
Beyond recreation, little attention has been paid thus far to economically value Cultural Ecosystem Services (CESs), especially in the context of coastal or marine environment. This paper develops and tests a pathway to the identification and economic valuation of CESs. The pathway enables researchers to make more explicit, and to economically value, cultural dimensions of environmental change. We suggest that the valuation process includes a simultaneous development of the scenarios of environmental change including related biophysical impacts, and a documentation of culture–environment linkages. A well-defined ecosystem service typology is also needed to classify cultural–ecological linkages as specific CESs. The pathway then involves the development of detailed, multidimensional depictions of the culture–environment linkages for use in a stated preference survey. The anticipated CES interpretations should be confirmed through debriefing questions in the survey questionnaire. The proposed approach is demonstrated with a choice experiment-based case study in Turkey that focuses improvements to the food web of the Black Sea. The results of this study indicate that economic preferences for CESs other than recreation can be estimated in a way that is economically consistent using the proposed approach.
Biodiversity is a highly complex and abstract ecological concept. Even though it is not one physical entity, it influences human well-being in multiple ways, mostly indirectly. While considerable research effort has been spent on the economic valuation of biodiversity, it remains to be a particularly challenging ‘valuation object’. Valuation practitioners therefore have to use proxies for biodiversity, many of which are very simple (single species, habitats). This paper presents a comprehensive and critical review of biodiversity valuation studies with special emphasis on biodiversity valuation in order to depict the state-of-the-art in this research field. It develops evaluation criteria so as to identify best-practice applications and shows that the field of biodiversity valuation studies is rather heterogeneous regarding both valuation objects and valuation methods. On the basis of our evaluation criteria and best-practice studies we suggest that to account for the complexity and abstractness of biodiversity, multi-attribute approaches with encompassing information provision should be used that emphasise the roles biodiversity plays for human well-being.