Bioiversidad

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The value of the world’s ecosystem services and natural capital
Robert Costanza*†, Ralph d’Arge‡, Rudolf de Groot§, Stephen Farberk, Monica Grasso†, Bruce Hannon¶, Karin Limburg#6, Shahid Naeem**, Robert V. O’Neill††, Jose Paruelo‡‡, Robert G. Raskin§§, Paul Suttonkk & Marjan van den Belt¶¶
* Center for Environmental and Estuarine Studies, Zoology Department, and † Insitute forEcological Economics, University of Maryland, Box 38, Solomons, Maryland 20688, USA ‡ Economics Department (emeritus), University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82070, USA § Center for Environment and Climate Studies, Wageningen Agricultural University, PO Box 9101, 6700 HB Wageninengen, The Netherlands k Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh,Pennsylvania 15260, USA ¶ Geography Department and NCSA, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA # Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York, USA ** Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA †† Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, USA ‡‡ Department of Ecology, Faculty ofAgronomy, University of Buenos Aires, Av. San Martin 4453, 1417 Buenos Aires, Argentina §§ Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California 91109, USA kk National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, Department of Geography, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA ¶¶ Ecological Economics Research and Applications Inc., PO Box 1589, Solomons,Maryland 20688, USA
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The services of ecological systems and the natural capital stocks that produce them are critical to the functioning of the Earth’slife-support system. They contribute to human welfare, both directly and indirectly, and therefore represent part of the total economic value of the planet. We have estimated the current economic value of 17 ecosystem services for 16 biomes, based on published studies and a few original calculations. For the entire biosphere, the value (most of which is outside the market) is estimated to be in therange of US$16–54 trillion (1012) per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year. Because of the nature of the uncertainties, this must be considered a minimum estimate. Global gross national product total is around US$18 trillion per year.

Because ecosystem services are not fully ‘captured’ in commercial markets or adequately quantified in terms comparable with economic services andmanufactured capital, they are often given too little weight in policy decisions. This neglect may ultimately compromise the sustainability of humans in the biosphere. The economies of the Earth would grind to a halt without the services of ecological life-support systems, so in one sense their total value to the economy is infinite. However, it can be instructive to estimate the ‘incremental’ or‘marginal’ value of ecosystem services (the estimated rate of change of value compared with changes in ecosystem services from their current levels). There have been many studies in the past few decades aimed at estimating the value of a wide variety of ecosystem services. We have gathered together this large (but scattered) amount of information and present it here in a form useful for ecologists,economists, policy makers and the general public. From this synthesis, we have estimated values for ecosystem services per unit area by biome, and then multiplied by the total area of each biome and summed over all services and biomes. Although we acknowledge that there are many conceptual and empirical problems inherent in producing such an estimate, we think this exercise is essential in order...
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