Valuing ecosystem services for urban planning

A 2012 article by Gomez and Barton in Ecological Economics (vol 86 [2013] 235-245) provides an overview of ecological services to urban areas and how they can be valued for better decision making. There is a very long list of References.

Key inspirations for the conceptual framework are the 2005 Millenium Ecosystem Assessment and the 2010 TEEB report on the economics of ecosystems and biodiversity.

The paper distinguishes 11 different services ranging from food supply to animal sighting; a 12th category discusses disservices. A table includes examples of indicators or proxies for each.

The paper next discusses economic, social and cultural, and insurance values (by the latter they mean the value of increasing resilience to shocks) and how they can be captured.

A final section discusses how ecosystem services valuation can be brought to bear on urban planning.

In conclusion, the authors draw three insights:

1- the social and economic value of services provided locally by urban ecosystems can be very high;

2- “The loss of ecosystems in cities may involve high long-term economic costs and severe impacts on social, cultural and insurance values associated to ecosystem services.”

3- we still have a lot to learn, especially regarding non-economic values and how they can be integrated in decision making processes.

E.D. – 2 Dec 2014