Valuing ecosystem services

This European Social Fund supported PhD study aims to build on the NEA approach to ecosystem services by applying its methods within a smaller defined geographical scale.

The Isles of Scilly will provide a study area to examine emerging opportunities associated with ecosystem services, through the production of innovative products with local businesses. A key aim is to demonstrate the innovation potential of emerging markets for ecosystem services.

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment defines ecosystem services as “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems” (MEA, 2005) whilst the recent National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA, 2011) develops this concept further to identify final ecosystem services and related goods.

This project adopts a highly interdisciplinary approach, incorporating methods from ecological and biological sciences, environmental economics, business and innovation, as well as political science; a key goal is to effectively leverage input from a wide variety of stakeholders.

The efficacy of emerging deliberative ecological-economic valuation methods will be examined in the course of the study alongside more established contingent valuation and choice experiment-based surveys.

The project incorporates three stages of analysis:

  1. Creating an inventory of ecosystem services for the Isles of Scilly
  2. Assessing the value of these services through market and non-market valuation methods
  3. Innovative pull-through for business value creation

The project thus aims to realise growth opportunities from the natural environment in the context of the regeneration and interdisciplinary agendas of Convergence in Cornwall.