Biological Valuation

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Development of valuation approaches

The current scientific approach to the value of Nature is based largely on two papers published in Nature by Costanza et al. (1997)[1] and Costanza (1999)[2]. These articles set forth the foundation for assessing the value of environmental goods and services, and the number of papers and books that followed them dealt with all major ecosystems. Socioeconomic valuation and the economics of natural resources have gained acceptance within scientific circles, and methodology has been developed[3].

A more recent concept is biological valuation as proposed by Derous et al. (2007)[4], which is discussed bellow.

Biological valuation method

The marine biological valuation methodology is able to integrate all available biological information on an area into one indicator of intrinsic value of marine biodiversity, without reference to anthropogenic use. This methodology can be used in every marine environment, independent of the amount and quality of the available biological data or the habitat type.

For environments for which data are available, subzones within a study area are scored against three first order criteria rarity and aggregation or fitness consequences, and two modifying criteria: naturalness and proportional importance.[5]

Are all species equal?

This approach was developed for the establishment of the best criteria for delineating marine protected areas. Since any kind of valuation requires ranking selected objects as more or less valuable, it raises ethical and philosophical questions, namely, whether all species are equal or not. Some recent studies discuss this dilemma, including Linder (1988)[6], Singer (1989), Schmidtz (2002)[7], and Jennings (2009)[8]. Although it is accepted that all species are equal in moral terms, their contributions to ecosystem structure and function differ, and this can be assessed in scientific terms. Phylogenetic relationships can also be taken into account when considering biological value: so has a species that is one of hundreds in a single genus a lower importance for conservation than a species that is the only one in its order.

Biological valuation maps

Biological value is not a direct measure of ecosystem health, although areas regarded as of high biological value are often considered to be valuable providers of socio-economic goods and services and are of high quality in terms of environmental health. The main difference is, however, that biological valuation focuses on the features of species and communities themselves, and not on the contamination or the extractable/usable part of the ecosystem.

Therefore marine biological valuation provides a comprehensive concept for assessing the intrinsic value of the subzones within a study area. It is a tool for calling attention to subzones that have particularly high ecological or biological significance. The biological valuation maps can also be used as baseline maps for future spatial planning in the marine environment. [5]

Biological valuation of seabed communities in Polish Exclusive Economic Zone

See also


  1. Costanza R., D’Arge R.,de Groot R., Farber S., Grasso M., Hannon B., Limburg K., Naem S., O’Neil R.V., Paruelo J., Raskin R.G.,Sutton P., van den Belt M., 1997, The value of the world ecosystem services and natural capital, Nature, 387, 253-260
  2. Costanza R. 1999, The ecological, economic and social importance of the oceans. Ecol. Econ., 31 (2), 287- 304
  3. Beaumont N.J., Austen M.C., Atkins J.P., & al. .2007, Identification, definition and quantification of goods and services provided by marine biodiversity. Marine Poll. Bull. 54, 253- 265
  4. Derous S., Agardy T., Hillewaert H. & 17 other authors, 2007, A concept for Biological valuation in the marine environment. Oceanologia 49, 99-128
  5. 5.0 5.1 Heip, C., Hummel, H., van Avesaath, P., Appeltans, W., Arvanitidis, C., Aspden, R., Austen, M., Boero, F., Bouma, TJ., Boxshall, G., Buchholz, F., Crowe, T., Delaney, A., Deprez, T., Emblow, C., Feral, JP., Gasol, JM., Gooday, A., Harder, J., Ianora, A., Kraberg, A., Mackenzie, B., Ojaveer, H., Paterson, D., Rumohr, H., Schiedek, D., Sokolowski, A., Somerfield, P., Sousa Pinto, I., Vincx, M., Węsławski, JM., Nash, R. (2009). Marine Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning. Printbase, Dublin, Ireland ISSN 2009-2539
  6. Linder D.O. 1988 Are all species created equal.? and other questions which are shaping wildlife law. Harvard Environmental.Law Review 12, 157pp.
  7. Schmidtz D. 2002 Are all species equal.? Journal.Applied Philosphy 15, 57- 67 Singer P 1989 All animals are equal. In: Animal.rights and human obligations. Edited T. Regan & P. Singer. Englweood Cliffs, NJ, Prentice Hall
  8. Jennings M 2009 The next big ideas in conservation. Are all species equal.? The Nature Conservancy;