Cognitive factors affect evaluation of ecosystem services and sustainability

Dec 10, 2013

A new report, drawing on behavioural economics literature from 2001 to 2012, has examined how cognitive factors influencing people's choices and preferences can affect the values that they place upon ecosystem services and upon ecosystem sustainability. Ecosystem services valuation is currently central to forestry and natural resources strategies and policy-making.

Ecosystem services refer to the benefits or outputs that people derive from ecosystems. Following the publication of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment there has been a growing interest in assessing the flows of such services and valuing the contribution they make to human well-being.

Evidence shows that the values placed on particular ecosystem services will vary depending upon how survey questions are framed, the setting in which questions are posed and a range of other factors influencing people's choices and preferences.

Better understanding of these implications will enable a more nuanced interpretation of valuation evidence and better understanding of potential pitfalls in undertaking valuation studies.

The report shows that there can be a wide variation in the values placed on particular ecosystem services due to a range of factors. For example, the ability of individuals to process information can result in eight times higher variance in respondent values when more complex formats are used. The Report covers methods used to mitigate these effects and highlights where addressing research gaps on how people value could contribute to ecosystem sustainability.

Explore further: Pinpointing how nature's benefits link to human well-being

More information: Read the complete report: www.forestry.gov.uk/pdf/FCRP022.pdf/$FILE/FCRP022.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Valuing nature is not enough

Jan 24, 2013

Is it possible to put a price tag on the natural world? A researcher at The University of Nottingham has been examining the rise of a new concept—ecosystem services—to describe the multitude of resources supplied to us ...

Conserving biodiversity could benefit the world's poor

Jan 12, 2012

Land areas that are a priority for wildlife conservation provide relatively high levels of ecosystem services such as pollination, water purification, food production, and climate regulation, so safeguarding them is expected ...

Recommended for you

Untangling Brazil's controversial new forest code

15 minutes ago

Approved in 2012, Brazil's new Forest Code has few admirers. Agricultural interests argue that it threatens the livelihoods of farmers. Environmentalists counter that it imperils millions of hectares of forest, ...

China toughens environment law to target polluters

16 minutes ago

China on Thursday passed the first amendment to its environment protection law in 25 years, imposing tougher penalties on polluters after the government called for a "war" on pollution.

Sea floor conditions mimicked for drilling platforms

4 hours ago

Mobile jack-up drilling platforms used in the oil and gas industry are at risk of rejection before installation due to their use in harsher environments and deeper waters—but University of WA scientists ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Untangling Brazil's controversial new forest code

Approved in 2012, Brazil's new Forest Code has few admirers. Agricultural interests argue that it threatens the livelihoods of farmers. Environmentalists counter that it imperils millions of hectares of forest, ...

How productive are the ore factories in the deep sea?

About ten years after the first moon landing, scientists on earth made a discovery that proved that our home planet still holds a lot of surprises in store for us. Looking through the portholes of the submersible ...

Genetic code of the deadly tsetse fly unraveled

Mining the genome of the disease-transmitting tsetse fly, researchers have revealed the genetic adaptions that allow it to have such unique biology and transmit disease to both humans and animals.

Ocean microbes display remarkable genetic diversity

The smallest, most abundant marine microbe, Prochlorococcus, is a photosynthetic bacteria species essential to the marine ecosystem. An estimated billion billion billion of the single-cell creatures live i ...