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Ecological and Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services - An Integrated Approach


Ecosystems provide services, which contribute to the satisfaction of human needs in many ways and deliver irreplaceable life support functions on which human life as a whole rests. Furthermore, ecosystem services exhibit the two characteristic properties of economic commodities:
(i) Their consumption increases human utility and
(ii) they are scarce as both the natural resources and the funds to preserve them are limited. To treat the trade-off between the economic use of natural resources and further provision of ecosystem services, a valuation of these services is inevitable. There are two distinct approaches to deal with the problem of ecosystem valuation. Among economists economic valuation methods prevail, which focus on the exchange value of ecosystem services. Their common characteristic is that they are finally based on consumer preferences, and do not adequately take account of the internal structure of ecosystems. Ecological valuation methods, mainly advocated by natural scientists and ecologists, derive ecological prices for the ecosystem services by a cost-of- production-approach. They model the complex interrelationship between the different species and the inanimate nature within the ecosystem. Their common characteristic is the neglecting of consumer preferences. As the existing methods for the valuation of ecosystem services emphasise either the economic system (economic valuation method) or the ecosystem (ecological valuation method) the main objective of this project is to provide the theoretical foundations for a new method of valuation of ecosystem services, which deals simultaneously with the economic system and the ecosystem in an equally detailed and balanced way. Therefore, an integrated analytical model will be derived which covers, on the one hand, the production related dependencies of ecosystem services provided by complex ecosystems, and on the other hand, differentiates between the ecosystem services with respect to

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