Thursday, 5 July 2012

'Economic valuation of ecosystem services from SSSIs' paper accepted for publication to Ecosystem Services Journal

My paper, with Matt Rayment 'An economic assessment of the ecosystem service benefits derived from the SSSI biodiversity conservation policy in England and Wales'.has now been accepted for publication of the first edition of the new Ecosystem Services journal. The paper is based on a Defra research project that we completed last year.

Despite significant conservation efforts, global biodiversity continues to decline. A key contributing factor has been a failure to fully recognise the range of 'ecosystem service' benefits provided by biodiversity. In this paper, we use a case study relating to Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) in England and Wales to demonstrate the potential ecosystem service benefits that can be derived from biodiversity conservation policies. Our approach involved three stages. (1) a choice experiment to assess the economic value of ecosystem services delivered by SSSI sites; (2) a 'weighting matrix' to (a) assign ecosystem services to the different SSSI habitats and (b) identify the contribution that conservation management on SSSIs has on the delivery of these services; (3) estimation of the aggregated economic value of ecosystem services directly attributable to conservation management on SSSI sites.

The public are willing to pay £956m annually to secure the levels of services and benefits currently delivered by SSSI conservation activities, and a further £769 million to secure the benefits that would be delivered if SSSIs were all in favourable condition. These benefit estimates significantly exceed the annual £111 million costs of managing SSSIs, demonstrating that investing in biodiversity conservation can be cost effective.

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