Economic Valuation of ecosystem services of (semi) natural landscapes for Cost-Benefit Assessments 


The Flemish Government relies increasingly on economic assessment frameworks for the deliberation and execution of their policy. For this, accurate estimates of costs and benefits are crucial. This also applies to the Flemish environmental policy. The cell environmental economics of the administration for the environment, nature and energy has the task to support the research on these economic assessment tools and attract expertise in the field of environmental economics. External impacts on nature and landscapes are very often considered only qualitatively in cost benefit analysis. The most important reason for this was the lack of usable and reliable figures. A SCBA remains a quantitative instrument where only the final balance of cost and benefit is important. In practice, non quantified negative impacts have a substantial risk of being ignored in the final decision making process. 

The cell Environmental economics aims to fill in the gaps , by developing valuation functions for the effects on nature landscapes that have scientific underpinning. These functions can allow that external effects on nature landscapes can be compared on an equal monetary basis as other costs and benefits in infrastructure projects. Important aspect is that also changes in quality of nature landscapes can be valued.

The methodology allows estimating the costs and benefits of changes in (semi) natural landscapes in a consistent manner. These benefits depend on the goods and services that are provided and how they are valued by society.

The quantification functions for regulating services are built on the current state of knowledge and data-availability. A balance has been found between general applicability and the scientific complexity of underlying processes. These functions can be improved in the future when new scientific insights emerge and /or better data is available.  The regulating services that were included are: Nutrient removal and retention (N en P), Climate regulation through carbon sequestration, Improvement of air quality through interception of pollutants (esp. PM10), Noise reduction by vegetation, Pollination and Water retention. Specific areas can deliver additional regulating services with often very significant benefits, such as erosion control, nursery functions, flood regulation etc… but require more advanced assessment tools then available for most SCBA assessments.

For recreational and transfer value a single valuation function was developed that estimates the willingness to pay for additional nature by households and for different variables (e.g. distance to nature, nature type, income etc…). The function is based on a web-based choice experiment that was returned by 3000 respondents, of which 2000 were valid for statistical processing. The function is valid on the level of planning alternatives or large scale development projects (> 10 ha) and not on the level of parcels.

Through the specific Flemish context study, the cell environmental economics hopes to reach a scientific consensus on the valuation of nature landscapes. In addition the cell environmental economics wishes to promote the use of economical assessment in environmental policy.  



Ecosystem {Integration level}
National {Cooperation status}
European (EU) {Cooperation status}
Terrestrial {Geographical scope}
Dry and Sub-humid Lands {Habitat type}
Forest {Habitat type}
Inland Waters {Habitat type}
Marine and Coastal {Habitat type}
Ecosystem Services {Tags}


Name Role Start End
Liekens, Inge member 2008-06-01 2009-11-01
De Nocker, Leo member 2008-06-01 2010-03-01
Meire, Patrick member 2008-06-01 2010-03-01
Staes, Jan member 2008-06-01 2010-03-01


Name Role Start End
Ecosystem Management Research Group member 2008-06-01 2009-11-01
Unit Environmental Modelling member 2008-06-01 2010-03-01

created:2011-12-14 14:18:59 UTC, source:web

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