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Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Ecosystem Management With Ecosystem Services: From Theory to Practice

Boerema, A., Van Passel, S., Meire, P.
Ecological economics 2018 v.152 pp. 207-218
cost benefit analysis, cost effectiveness, ecological function, economic valuation, ecosystem management, ecosystem services, ecosystems, estuaries
Integrated ecosystem management is challenging due to many, often conflicting, targets and limited resources to allocate. A valuable and straightforward approach is to integrate an ecosystem services assessment in a cost-effectiveness analysis as method to evaluate and compare the cost-effectiveness of several management scenarios to reach one or more objectives and take into account the potential effects on other ecosystem functions and services. Nevertheless, this method is not commonly used in ecosystem management evaluation but can provide an alternative for the frequently used but often contested cost-benefit analysis (which requires the step of assigning a monetary value to each benefit). The aim of this study is to apply the cost-effectiveness analysis in combination with an ecosystem services assessment on a real case-study (comparing alternative management strategies for estuaries) to derive lessons learned to go from theory to practice. The application of this method for the case-study reveals many remaining challenges such as data availability and knowledge to assess ecosystem effects of management measures. Nevertheless, the analysis demonstrates that this method can be used for making a more integrated evaluation and supporting better-informed management decisions.