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Valuing Ecosystem Services

Geoffrey M. Heal

Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

January 1999

Paine Webber Working Paper No. 98-12

The value of the services provided to human societies by natural ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles has recently been the topic of discussion and research. Here I review some of the basic economic principles necessary for understanding some of the questions that arise in this area. I argue that even with the best possible data and scientific understanding, the sense in which economists can value nature's services is limited. I also argue that valuing these services is much less important than providing incentives for their conservation, and that valuation and providing incentives for conservation are quite different. Valuation is neither necessary nor sufficient for conservation, whereas providing the right incentives is.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 11

Keywords: Ecosystems, ecosystem services, valuation, incentives, conservation

JEL Classification: D6, Q2, Q3

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Date posted: August 28, 2001  

Suggested Citation

Heal, Geoffrey M., Valuing Ecosystem Services (January 1999). Paine Webber Working Paper No. 98-12. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=279191 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.279191

Contact Information

Geoffrey M. Heal (Contact Author)
Columbia Business School - Finance and Economics ( email )
3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States
212-854-6459 (Phone)
212-316-9219 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.gsb.columbia.edu/faculty/gheal/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
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