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Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services: Conflicts in Classification

Keywords: ecosystem services, Millenium Ecosystems Approach, water services, tropical forests.

Author(s): Elena Ojea, Julia Martin-Ortega and Aline Chiabai

Date: 2011-14-01

Issue: 2011-03

  Download this Policy Briefings (167 KB.)

Since the release of the Millennium Ecosystem Approach (MA), studies valuing ecosystem services have grown in the literature. As a consequence, different interpretations exist on the classification of services, and several studies have argued that the classification of services MEA proposes may not be the most appropriate when the aim of the analysis is economic valuation.

To illustrate this, we conducted an examination of existing primary valuation studies of water related services provided by tropical forests, that we analyzed under the MA classification and compared with an output-based classification. Our results support the idea that an output-based classification should provide with more accurate values and could contribute to avoid certain problems such as double counting and potential underestimation of services values.

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