FIGURE ES-1 Components of ecosystem valuation: ecosystem structure and function, goods and services, human actions, and values. (See Figure 7-1 for an expanded version of this figure.)

appropriate or reliable. Economic valuation methods can be complex and demanding, and the results of applying these methods may be subject to judgment, uncertainty, and bias. However, based on an assessment of a very large literature on the development and application of various economic valuation methods, the committee concludes that they are mature and capable of providing useful information in support of improved environmental decision-making.

From an ecological perspective, the challenge is to interpret basic research on ecosystem functions so that service-level information can be communicated to economists. For economic and related social sciences, the challenge is to identify the values of both tangible and intangible goods and services associated with ecosystems and to address the problem of decision-making in the presence of partial valuation. The combined challenge is to develop and apply methods to assess the values of human-induced changes in ecosystem functions and services.

Finally, this report concerns valuing the goods and services that ecosystems provide to human societies, with principal focus on those provided by aquatic and related terrestrial ecosystems. However, because the principles and practices of valuing ecosystem goods and services are rarely sensitive to whether the underlying ecosystem is strictly aquatic or terrestrial, many of the report’s conclusions and recommendations are likely to be directly or at least indirectly applicable to the valuation of goods and services provided by any ecosystem.

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