Application of non-market valuation to California coastal policy decisions

Nejem Raheem, Steve Colt, Erica Fleishman, John Talberth , Paula Swedeen, Boyle Kevin J., Murray Alan Rudd, R.D. Lopez, D. Crocker, D. Bohan, T. O'Higgins, C. Willer, R.M. Boumans

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Regulatory agencies in the United States do not generally consider economic values of ecosystem services in their policy decisions. We report the results of a collaborative effort by a team of economists, conservation biologists, and staff members of the California Ocean Protection Council to provide spatially explicit and policy-relevant values for ecosystem services generated in coastal regions in California. We developed a matrix in which the rows are types of ecosystem services and the columns are types of marine ecosystems along the California coast. Where possible, we populated this matrix with ecosystem service values per unit of area drawn from the economics literature. We then evaluated whether the values for given services, in given ecosystems, could be reasonably approximated by applying the replacement cost or the avoided cost method. Reported values of coastal ecosystems varied widely, and much of the valuation research did not address specific ecosystem services. Even when ecosystem services were explicitly addressed, the services often were not described or valued in a spatially explicit manner. These results suggest that rigorous application of non-market values to policy decisions requires original valuation studies for specific services in specific ecosystems. Where original, place-based valuation studies are not possible, valuation by replacement or avoided cost methods is feasible for some ecosystem services.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1166-1171
Number of pages6
JournalMarine policy
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2012

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