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From ecosystem services to benefits of the Baltic Sea - indicators and threats

image of From ecosystem services to benefits of the Baltic Sea - indicators and threats

Eutrophication, oil spills, and invasive species. Indicators and human benefits from ecosystem services of the Baltic Sea. These were the token of discussion at the ”Nordic Workshop on Economic Analysis of the State of the Baltic Sea, NorWEBS” in Helsinki on 19-20 November 2009, arranged by MTT Agrifood Research Finland. A joint researcher team of economists and marine experts assembled at the workshop to discuss the three main threats to the ecology of the Baltic Sea and find respective indicators of the state of Baltic Sea to be used in economic valuation. Economic valuation of the ecosystem services is required for a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis on protective measures. Based on the presentations and discussions held in the NorWEBS-workshop we propose a framework for deriving the combined benefits from the Baltic Sea ecosystem services.

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Summary

The value of the Baltic Sea manifests through a multitude of human activities that rely on the sea. The most significant threats to the welfare of the Baltic are eutrophication, oil spills and invasive species. The key question is how much resources should be allocated for protecting the ecosystem services the Baltic provides. In order to establish the optimal protection policies, we require information on the benefits. We propose a framework for deriving the combined benefits from the Baltic Sea ecosystem services. We extend the existing ecological information of the ecosystem services with economic considerations on valuation of these services. The choice of the indicator depends on the environmental problem in question. We define a set of indicators, which captures the linking of the ecological processes and people's perceptions together based on the environmental threats assessed by a Baltic Sea expert panel. The appropriate valuation method will account for the cultural differences between the surrounding nations and for the ecological interdependencies underlying the benefits. For the purpose of aggregation of benefits there is a need to focus on cultural and provisioning services to avoid double-counting. The regulating and supporting services should be modelled in such way that their significance is represented in the value of the provisioning and cultural services.

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