Valuing Ecosystems

In the process of valuing ecosystems each ecosystem is studied keeping in mind its economic value. This value indicates the impact of human activities on the ecosystem. This can also be used as a tool to decide the value of the ecosystem. It depends on the nature of the ecosystem that how it is evaluated. If it is water ecosystem, it might be evaluated on the basis of the value of water and if it is a fish ecosystem, the quality of the fish might determine the value.

Determining the value

Earlier on, environmentalists associated the economic value to the ecosystem on the basis of the market value of the product available in that particular ecosystem. For example, for a fish ecosystem, one would need to take out some fish from that ecosystem and sell those fish in the market. The value that he gets for the fish would determine that what value should be given to that ecosystem. This value might be different for different types of ecosystems and it might also be required that two similar types of ecosystems are studied and evaluated to assign value to one ecosystem with respect to the other one.

Valuing Ecosystems

Calculating ecological services

Services are an important aspect of every ecosystem. That is why many sociologists and economists these days measure the value of the ecosystems through their services and by the ecosystems as a whole. The services can be anything which includes anything done by the ecosystem for the betterment of us. This can be rightly called as instrumentalism. Then, it would depend on the type of service and the quality of the service provided by the ecosystem as to how much value it should be given.

Statistics of the Earth’s ecosystems

It was in the 1990s that an ecologist named Robert Costanza remarked that the total value of the ecosystems of the Earth, all combined together, would amount to a total of $33 trillion. This value was even more than the human exchange economy value, which was around $25 trillion in the 1990s. However, this was strange for the environmentalists who were studying Ecology at that time. During that period, some of the environmentalists were studying Biosphere Valuation, which is regarded as ecosystem valuation to its extremities.

Challenges faced by ecosystem valuation

There are various challenges faced by ecosystem valuation because some sociologists believe that it might harm the environment and it is against the ethics to measure the value of the ecosystem as per the market value. Many also think that Ecology is pristine and it should not be compared in the monetary terms. However, the theoretical values suggest that it would become impossible to value the ecosystem if it is not compared on a monetary basis. A hot topic of discussion these days is whether it is an economic activity or an ecological activity to value the ecosystem. The ongoing debates and discussions might affect the methods of ecosystem valuation in the near future.