Evaluation of Risks to Biodiversity in Ecosystems

The declining number of species, the necessity to grow agricultural crops and the future aim to use the entire biosphere to compensate for human activities (protection of climate C sinks) requires careful differentiation between divergent aims. From an economic point of view, the problem of sustainable land use is often seen as a conflict between the economic interest for use (particularly of biomass production) and the required protection of the biosphere. The conflict may be solved despite the conflict with economy, as in many cases it is possible to develop protective measures and gradual differences exist. Different types of use exist:

• protection from use: This refers to landscape with particular value regarding environmental aspects. These are unique ecosystems (e.g. World Heritage Sites) or regionally important ecosystems needing protection from unlimited economic use (protected forests). Thus, the interest of environmental protection outweighs the economic value. The WBGU (2001) recommends that 10-20% of the earth's surface should be in this category. In 2004, 11% of the land surface was protected.

• protection despite use: In this case, exploitation (agriculture, mass tourism) outweighs other considerations. The introduction of environmental protective measures would bring great economic costs from not using the important economic development potential. Nevertheless, even in these intensively used areas, basic principles of environmentally friendly use need to be applied. Winter sport in the Alps and tourism in the Mediterranean region demonstrate that this does not always succeed and it is often too late when long-term consequences are recognised. Observa-

Direct values

Indirect values

Direct values

Indirect values

Option values

Existence values other non-use values (e.g. bequest value)

Economic use value

Services for production or consumption Experience value

Symbolic values (religious and spiritual values)

Functional value

Functional benefit

Future, potential use of direct and indirect values

Benefits gained from the knowledge of the existence of objects

Value categories

Economic use value Symbolic value Functional value Option value Existence value

Area of application in the biosphere (examples)

■ Recreation

■ Natural objects viewed as holy (trees, rivers, etc.)

■ Heraldic animals

Ecological functions (e.g.):

■ Flood control

■ Functions in biogeochemical cycles

• Protection of water resources

■ Pollutant filters

■ Carbon source or sink

■ Use of genetic • Natural landscapes potential for medical purposes that give a benefit without being experienced directly e.g. for aesthetic reasons

• World natural heritage

Economic valuation methods

■ Market analysis

■ Travel cost approach

> Hedonistic price approach • Contingent valuation methods

■ Avoided damage costs

• Expenditure of preventive measures 1 Valuation of changes in productivity ' Restoration costs

■ Contingent valuation methods

■ Contingent valuation methods

■ Contingent valuation methods

| Fig. 5.6.3. Schematic of an ecological evaluation. (WBGU 2001)

tions in national parks in developing countries show an increasing degradation of these protected areas by illegal use (Liu et al. 2001). • protection by use: This type of landscape is characterised by acceptance of a degree of human intervention, but the economic exploitation is limited (e.g. to maintain soils of medium fertility). Thus it is possible to satisfy both needs by natural and infrastructural measures (e.g. targeted tourism in national parks). With regard to protection of species, protection by use may lead to better sustain-ability than protection from use.

In the final evaluation of which economic and ecological aims to pursue, it is necessary to also estimate the value of the biosphere (Fig. 5.6.3). The economic evaluation is as follows:

1. Identification of output and services from the biosphere, i.e. economic relevant functions.

Agro Coast Forest Fresh Grass-water land

Food/fibre production


Water quality

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