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By Roel Slootweg and Pieter van Beukering

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In the context of ecosystem services, it is crucial to start identifying the providers and the beneficiaries of the relevant ecosystem services. Next, valuation techniques need to be selected. This choice is context specific and dependent on a number of factors, including whether or not the environmental service is traded directly or indirectly in a market, the stakeholders that hold values for the service, the available budget for conducting a valuation study, and the availability of existing information on the value of similar resources.

Undoubtedly, this has contributed to the ever-increasing safety norms for oil transport, thus reducing such mishaps in future. On the other hand it provides a mechanism for financing the cleanup operations of environmental damage for which a party can be hold accountable. In a strange manner this generates financial “sustainability” of clean-up operations; of course an environmental disaster can never be considered environmentally sustainable. The introduction of a payment for the ecosystem services scheme (PES) in Costa Rica has played a major role in changing Costa Rican destructive and rapid deforestation into forest restoration efforts and more sustainable management, with tangible and convincing results.

The selection of which method to use depends on a number of aspects. First, when planning a valuation study, it is necessary to balance the benefits of using the best scientific and analytic techniques with the financial, data, time and skills limitations to be faced. Realise that no single method is necessarily the best; for each application it is necessary to consider which method(s) is the most appropriate. Sometimes a number of different methods is used in conjunction in order to estimate the value of different services from a single ecosystem.

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