Examine some of the ways in which we typically value our natural resources and to consider whether it is an appropriate representation of how the ecosystem is, or should be valued.

ASSIGNMENT REQUIREMENTS
This assignment requires you to examine some of the ways in which we typically value our natural resources and to consider whether it is an appropriate representation of how the ecosystem is, or should be valued. You are required to select a natural ecosystem specific to an area. This may be any locality in the world. For example, rather than writing about rainforests in general, write about a particular rainforest community or geographic region of rainforest. Another example would be wetlands, but again this should be specific to a geographic region or a particular type of wetland. Any references used must be cited and included in a Reference list using the Harvard Referencing System.

ASSIGNMENT REQUIREMENTS
This assignment requires you to examine some of the ways in which we typically value our natural resources and to consider whether it is an appropriate representation of how the ecosystem is, or should be valued. You are required to select a natural ecosystem specific to an area. This may be any locality in the world. For example, rather than writing about rainforests in general, write about a particular rainforest community or geographic region of rainforest. Another example would be wetlands, but again this should be specific to a geographic region or a particular type of wetland. Any references used must be cited and included in a Reference list using the Harvard Referencing System.

Q1. (2.5 marks)
What is the ecosystem you are investigating? List at least 5 examples of the goods and/or services provided by the resource?

Q2. (5 marks)
Using the triple bottom line table (see Table 1) list each of the goods and services you identified in Q1 and assign a low, medium or high rating for each good or service in relation to their economic, environmental and social values. Describe the distribution of the ratings across the table; are there any clusters or trends you can see? In other words, is the resource valued the same way for each good and/or service it provides? Comment on the degree of conflict or issues you would anticipate in how this resource is to be managed given the results of your table.
Table 1. Triple bottom line rating for ecosystem goods and services (where L = Low, M = Medium and H = High).
Social Value
Environmental Value
Economic Value
Goods / Services

Q3. (5 marks)
How an ecosystem is valued depends upon the benefits associated with the goods and services provided by that ecosystem. On of the ways in which we can classify ecosystem values are in terms of the benefits it provides. A common typology of benefits is:

• Direct use
• Indirect use
• Future use
• Non-use
Provide a brief definition for each of the above terms.
Using Table 2, classify the goods and services you listed in Q1 according to whether its value or benefit is considered direct use / indirect / future / non use. Add any other benefits you may have overlooked in Q1 so that you have at least one or two examples in each column.
Table 2. Examples of ecosystem benefits.
ECOSYSTEM:

Non-use benefits
Future use benefits
Indirect use benefits
Direct use benefits
Q4a. (5 marks)
A market failure is the failure of economic markets to reflect the full or true social cost or benefits of goods or services. What are the key factors or potential factors that could contribute to a market failure with respect to your chosen ecosystem?
Q4b. (2.5 marks)
There are approaches generally proposed as ways of overcoming market failures. Give one example of an approach or economic instrument that may help counter-act market failure for your chosen ecosystem. Explain your reasoning.

Q5. (5 marks)
It can be useful to develop approaches that calculate the value of ecosystem benefits in a way economic markets understand – ie dollars. Assigning a dollar value to benefits enables individuals, communities and policy makers more easily compare and evaluate alternative uses and policy options. For example, the economic costs that would be incurred through the loss of an ecosystem service due to over-development of an ecosystem, could prompt policy makers to put resources into the conservation of that ecosystem instead of destroying it. However, there are rarely existing markets or standards for valuing our ecosystems. This is largely due to:

1. incomplete / uncertain scientific understanding of these complex natural systems;
2. lack of economic methods for establishing the values of the non-traditional market benefits (e.g. the value of ‘existence’).

In half- to one-page, discuss the key limitations or challenges in valuing, and subsequently measuring, the benefits of your ecosystem. What are some of the progressive methods or techniques available that may help realize the true or full value of your ecosystem?

 

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