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Ecology and Economics

February 1, 2006

By Stephen Farber, Robert Costanza, et al.


This article outlines an approach, based on ecosystem services, for assessing the trade-offs inherent in managing humans embedded in ecological systems. Evaluating these trade-offs requires an understanding of the biophysical magnitudes of the changes in ecosystem services that result from human actions, and of the impact of these changes on human welfare.We summarize the state of the art of ecosystem services–based management and the information needs for applying it. Three case studies of Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) sites—coastal, urban, and agricultural— illustrate the usefulness, information needs, quantification possibilities, and methods for this approach. One example of the application of this approach, with rigorously established service changes and valuations taken from the literature, is used to illustrate the potential for full economic valuation of several agricultural landscape management options, including managing for water quality, biodiversity, and crop productivity.

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Read More: Agriculture, Energy, Environment, Global

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