Valuing and Evaluating Marine Ecosystem Services
Putting the Right Price on Marine Environments?
Authors: Julian Clifton, Leanne C. Cullen-Unsworth, and Richard K. F. Unsworth
Volume 5, Number 1 (2014)
The flow of ecosystem services from coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests sustains the livelihoods of billions of people worldwide. Faced with the global degradation of marine and coastal ecosystems, policy makers are increasingly focusing on ecosystem service valuation techniques to encourage conservation and sustainable use of marine resources. Here we provide a review and synthesis of the available information on economic valuation techniques as applied to tropical marine habitats. Our study demonstrates the high variability and lack of consistency in outcomes from these studies. We conclude that, if the concept of ecosystem goods and services is to make a positive contribution toward managing the impacts of humans on the environment, then economic valuation approaches must reflect the inherent limitations of economic theory while emphasizing the complexity and heterogeneity of the natural environment and human decision-making.
JULIAN CLIFTON is Senior Lecturer in the School of Agrictulture and Environment at the University of Western Australia. His principal research interests lie in processes of interaction and conflict between local user groups and conservation policy makers in the marine environment. His research interests have recently extended to include evaluations of vulnerability to climate change in fishing communities of the Seychelles along with similar studies of adaptation and resilience in Australian coastal communities. He is also developing a research program focusing on the potential for community-based tourism development in coastal regions of Myanmar.
LEANNE C. CULLEN-UNSWORTH is Research Fellow in the Sustainable Places Research Institute at Cardiff University and Director of the marine environmental charity Project Seagrass. She is interested in the threats posed to livelihoods and the economy, food security, and lifestyles from a changing global environment, as well as mitigation, adaptation, and behavioral changes within coupled physical, social and ecological, systems. She works on marine and coastal resource use and management, in particular the ecological and economic value of seagrass meadows across multiple scales.
RICHARD K. F. UNSWORTH is a marine biologist and leads the Seagrass Ecosystem Research Group at Swansea University, where his research spans the disciplines of ecology, social science, and economics. He is particularly interested in the consequences of environmental changes on seagrass ecosystem functioning and the implications of this for society. His specific focus is on the implications of seagrass management for resilience and global food security.
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