Economic values for ecosystem services: A global synthesis and way forward

L. M. Brander*, R. de Groot, J. P. Schägner, V. Guisado-Goñi, V. van 't Hoff, S. Solomonides, A. McVittie, F. Eppink, M. Sposato, L. Do, A. Ghermandi, M. Sinclair, R. Thomas

*Corresponding author for this work

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This paper presents a global synthesis of economic values for ecosystem services provided by 15 terrestrial and marine biomes. Information from over 1,300 studies, yielding over 9,400 value estimates in monetary units, has been collected and organised in the Ecosystem Services Valuation Database (ESVD). This is a substantial expansion of data since the de Groot et al. (2012) description of the ESVD and provides an important juncture to explore developments in the use of valuation methods and the contexts in which valuations are conducted. In this paper we provide summary values for 23 ecosystem services from 15 biomes to represent the magnitude, variation and gaps in economic values. To enable the comparison and synthesis of values, estimates in the ESVD are standardised to a common set of units (Int$/ha/year at 2020 price levels). This data provides a basis for value transfers to inform decision-making in current policy contexts but requires due consideration and adjustment for context specific determinants of value. Although the coverage of the ESVD is global, the geographic distribution of data is not even. There is a particularly high representation of European ecosystems and relatively little information for Russia, Central Asia and North Africa. Therefore, the data are not globally representative of biophysical and socio-economic contexts. The distribution of data across ecosystem services is also far from even, with some services very well represented (e.g. recreation, wild fish and wild animals, ecosystem and species appreciation, air filtration and global climate regulation) and others with almost no value estimates (e.g. disease control, water baseflow maintenance, rainfall pattern regulation). In the past decade, there has been a notable increase in demand for information on the economic value of ecosystem services from both public and private institutions to improve the conservation and management of natural capital. The literature is developing to meet this demand but there is a need for targeted and refined valuation research to ensure sufficient certainty, comparability, and representativeness of the data, and to enable transferability and fill knowledge gaps. This paper concludes by identifying avenues for future development to further increase the amount, quality, representativeness and application of data on economic values for ecosystem services.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101606
JournalEcosystem Services
Early online date1 Mar 2024
Publication statusPrint publication - Apr 2024

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  • Economic value
  • Ecosystem services
  • Ecosystem services valuation database (ESVD)
  • Monetary units


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