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Ecosystem services assessment: A review under an ecological-economic and systems perspective

Tiina Häyhä and Pier Paolo Franzese

Ecological Modelling, 2014, vol. 289, issue C, 124-132

Abstract: A comprehensive understanding of interlinked ecological-economic systems requires integration of different theoretical frameworks and assessment methods. This paper reviews the main definitions, classifications, and methodological approaches used to identify, assess, and value stocks of natural capital and flows of ecosystem services. A synthesis of the major developments in the field of ecosystem services assessment is provided and the main future challenges are outlined. The notion of value in relation to natural capital and ecosystem services is discussed exploring different economic and ecological approaches. We then propose a conceptual framework integrating environmental accounting and ecosystem services assessment to highlight three main possible windows of attention to be investigated when focusing on ecosystem services provision and exploitation: (1) sustained economic and environmental costs, (2) received benefits, and (3) generated impacts. Finally, we conclude that such an ecological-economic and systems perspective to ecosystem services assessment could play an important role in investigating the interplay between ecological and socio-economic systems, allowing a broader and more comprehensive understanding of the benefits gained from ecosystems and the costs due to their exploitation.

Keywords: Natural capital; Ecosystem services; Economic valuation; Environmental accounting; Socio-ecological systems; Systems perspective (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014
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