Key Questions

•  Should we attempt to express ecosystem processes in terms of ecosystem services? Can we accurately assess the provision of ecosystem services?

•  At the global and regional level how can ecosystem service delivery be assessed through time utilizing remote sensing technology?

•  Should we attempt to estimate monetary values for ecosystem services and natural capital? Can or should all values of nature be measured in monetary terms? Is it possible to accurately measure such values as aesthetic beauty and the existence of species in monetary terms that can be compared to the value of crop or timber production?

•  What is the relationship between the value of natural capital and the value of ecosystem services?

•  What are the main difficulties involved in estimating monetary values for ecosystem services and natural capital?

•  What are the main methods used by economists to value ecosystem services and natural capital? What are the strengths and limitations of these methods?

•  What are the main methods used by other social scientists besides economists to value ecosystem services and natural capital? Are the methodological approaches of economists and other social scientists consistent, conflicting, or nonoverlapping?

•  Because of the difficulty of valuing some ecosystem services, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget recommends quantifying benefits that can be quantified, monetizing benefits that can be monetized, and giving a qualitative description of benefits than can be neither monetized nor quantified. Do you think that doing so will mean that ecosystem services that are only qualitatively described will be taken less seriously than those that are given monetary or quantitative values? In other words, is there a bias against evidence that is not based on “hard” numbers?

•  How should we weight benefits from ecosystem services to different groups? If harm from loss of services accrues to poor or disadvantages groups should that be weighed differently than loss of services to wealthy groups?

•  How can we design a reporting system for natural capital that is equivalent to measures of manufactured capital and other forms of assets to derive a measure of inclusive wealth? How can we design a reporting system for ecosystem services and incorporate these values into national income accounting? Can these reports be updated annually and reported at the country, state, and national levels, analogous to and supportive of the FAOstat on agricultural commodities.



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