Article

Accounting and valuing the ecosystem services related to water supply in the Central Highlands of Victoria, Australia

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Abstract

We examine the theoretical and practical aspects of accounting and valuing the ecosystem services of water provisioning, water filtration and water storage using the System of Environment-Economic Accounting (SEEA) and a case study from Central Highlands of Victoria Australia. We identify: (1) the ecosystem assets providing the ecosystem services, which is both the water body (e.g. lake or artificial reservoir) and surrounding land including the vegetation cover; (2) how these ecosystem services are used as inputs to the production of "Natural Water" as defined in the Central Product Classification used in the System of National Accounts and the SEEA, and; (3) value the ecosystem services using exchange values and the replacement cost method. We propose that for accounting purposes, the generation and use of the ecosystem services of water filtration and water provisioning is simultaneous for the water sources used for supplying water to the economy. The ecosystem service of water provisioning is equal to inflow of runoff and precipitation to reservoirs used by the water industry and recorded at the time of the inflow, not when the water is abstracted and supplied as the product "Natural Water" to households and business.

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... Отчитането на природния капитал (NCA) се разви бързо през последните години чрез значителни усилия както на международни организации, така и на научната общност (Turner et al. 2019;Vačkářů & Grammatikopoulou, 2019;Obst, 2015). NCA се счита за начин за интегриране на биофизичната и икономическата информация за промените в запасите от природен капитал и стойността на ЕУ, за да се предоставя редовна информация на вземащите решения (Vardon et al. 2019). Експерименталното отчитане на екосистемите (EEA) в рамките на SEEA е методологичната платформа за внедряване на този подход в практиката. ...
... Въпреки че има известен напредък в отчитането на свързаните с водата регулиращи ЕУ и по-специално контрола на наводненията, е необходимо понататъшно развитие в тази област (Vardon 2014;Vardon et al. 2019). Характеризирането и оценката на контрола на наводненията е предизвикателна задача, тъй като както оценката, така и отчитането на ЕУ се нуждаят от различни данни, които обикновено не са достъпни чрез преки или косвени измервания, поради което подходите за моделиране на разглежданата услуга са изключително необходими (Crossman et al. 2019). ...
Technical Report
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Deliverable D2.1.1 is the second project report of the INES project (INtegrated assessment and mapping of water-related Ecosystem Services for nature-based solutions in river basin management). It presents the results from work package (WP) 2. Hydrological risks and climate change, task 2.1 Review and analysis of the state of the art.
... Natural capital accounting (NCA) has evolved rapidly in recent years through substantial efforts of both international organizations and the scientific community (Turner et al., 2019;Vačkářů and Grammatikopoulou, 2019;Obst, 2015). NCA can integrate biophysical and economic information on the changes in the stock of natural capital and the value of ecosystem services (ES) to regularly provide information to decisionmakers (Vardon et al., 2019). In March 2021, the United Nations Statistical Commission adopted the System of Environmental Economic Accounting -Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EA). ...
... Water flow regulation ES and biophysical modeling are among the most important topics in the individual ES part of the revision. Although there has been some progress in the accounting of water-related regulating ES, further development in this area is needed (Vardon, 2014;Vardon et al., 2019). The revision of water flow regulation ES underlines the need for the application of modeling approaches (Crossman et al., 2019). ...
Preprint
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Natural Capital Accounting (NCA) has evolved rapidly in recent years through substantial efforts of both international organizations and the scientific community. Water regulation ecosystem services (ES) are key elements of regulating services in ecosystem accounting, with most relevant studies strongly relying on models for ES quantification up to now. In this paper, we provide a review of modeling efforts for water regulation ES based on 148 scientific papers, properly systematized, analyzed and interpreted by using a detailed and structured original template. We examined emerging trends and gaps in model applications and the readiness to integrate them into the NCA and SEEA-EA frameworks. We propose a classification scheme which organizes the 92 different models and modeling approaches identified in the review process into eight model categories so that this scheme can be efficiently used in the water ES assessment of and for further integration into the accounting framework. Among the models, the hydrologic model SWAT and the modeling tool InVEST are by far the most popular. The results of the review revealed differences between the general ES literature and the accounting-related papers. Moreover, our analysis sets the basis for useful recommendations of which model categories are the most appropriate for the water regulation ES, included in the SEEA-EA reference list. Based on the number of relevant papers, the reliability and the confidence level of the recommendations for the use of models have been incorporated in our analysis. We highlight as model category with the highest confidence the ones relative to quantification water flow and flood control service aiming at ES accounting. Models for erosion control ES can only be recommended with a lower confidence, while for water purification the results lack clear evidence for using a particular group of models. Based on the research findings we identified the main research priorities on model integration in the accounting of water regulation ES: 1) further development of guidelines for the use of models in ecosystem accounting; 2) analyses of the spatial aspects of the model towards a clear distinction between ecosystem service supply and use; and 3) development of integrated modeling approaches for water regulation ES accounting.
... These include regulating services such as water quality and quantity (DellaSala, 2011;Brandt et al., 2014;Keith et al., 2017;Kormos et al., 2018;Taylor et al., 2019;Vardon et al., 2019); carbon storage and sequestration as an ecosystem service of global climate regulation (United Nations [UN], 2021) [discussed above, but see Keith et al. (2019) and Uganda Bureau of Statistics [UBOS] (2020) for examples using Ecosystem Accounts]; local to regional biophysical cooling (Spracklen et al., 2012;Lawrence and Vandecar, 2015); regulation of runoff, sediment retention, erosion control, and flood mitigation (Hornbeck and Federer, 1975;Jayasuriya et al., 1993;Dudley and Stolton, 2003;Furniss et al., 2010;van Haaren et al., 2021); provisioning services such as abundance of game and fish (Gamfeldt et al., 2013;Brandt et al., 2014); cultural services such as landscape aesthetics, recreation, and tourism (Brandt et al., 2014;Brockerhoff et al., 2017); cultural practices and knowledge (Normyle et al., 2022); contributions to physical and psychological health (Stier-Jarmer et al., 2021); and general assessments across a suite of services (e.g., Myers, 1997;Harrison et al., 2014;Shimamoto et al., 2018;Maes et al., 2020). ...
Article
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Several key international policy frameworks involve forests, including the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). However, rules and guidelines that treat forest types equally regardless of their ecosystem integrity and risk profiles in terms of forest and carbon loss limit policy effectiveness and can facilitate forest degradation. Here we assess the potential for using a framework of ecosystem integrity to guide policy goals. We review the theory and present a conceptual framework, compare elements of integrity between primary and human-modified forests, and discuss the policy and management implications. We find that primary forests consistently have higher levels of ecosystem integrity and lower risk profiles than human-modified forests. This underscores the need to protect primary forests, develop consistent large-scale data products to identify high-integrity forests, and operationalize a framework of ecosystem integrity. Doing so will optimize long-term carbon storage and the provision of other ecosystem services, and can help guide evolving forest policy at the nexus of the biodiversity and climate crises.
... Although, there is some progress in the accounting of waterrelated regulating ES and flood regulation in particular, further development in this area is needed (Vardon 2014;Vardon et al. 2019). Characterizing and assessing flood regulation is a challenging task as both assessment and accounts of this ES need various data which are usually not available through direct or indirect measurements, therefore modeling approaches of water regulation are much needed (Crossman et al. 2019). ...
Article
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The System of Environmental-Economic Accounting – Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA-EA) is a spatially-based, integrated statistical framework for organizing biophysical information about ecosystems, measuring ecosystem services (ES). Water flow regulation ES and biophysical modeling are among the main topics in the individual ES part of the SEEA-EA framework and flood regulation ES is one of the important services. Characterizing and assessing flood regulation is a challenging task as both assessment and accounts of this ES need various data which are usually not available through direct or indirect measurements, therefore modeling approaches of water regulation are much needed. Despite growing attention and studies using hydrologic models to assess and/or map flood regulation ES, the accounting of this service is still not well developed. In this paper, we present an approach for accounting flood regulation at a local scale using ArcSWAT modeling. It is based on the results of flood regulation ES assessment, where modeling results are used to quantify the ES indicators and delineate the service providing areas (SPA) and service demand areas (SDA). The actual flow of flood regulation is calculated as a ratio between ES demand and ES potential and it represents the area of SPA which corresponds to the demand for flood regulation represented by SDA. The results show that predominant flood regulations ES supply is provided by the forest ecosystem as well as the actual flow. The accounting of flood regulation is strongly determined by ecosystem extent mapping. The CORINE Land Cover (CLC) provides the most appropriate and available data for mapping ecosystem extent at smaller scales. However, at a larger scale, it is too coarse and the combination of Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES) national ecosystem mapping gives better results.
... Also contested was the preference for replacement costs over restoration costs to valuate degradation, as the latter would be consistent with the methods of depreciation of fixed capital in SNA. 17 Vardon, Burnett, and Dovers (2016) expressed concern for the lack of policy applications of SEEA, tracking the origins of this issue in the slow and highly technical development of the environmental accounting programme and the undecisive role of some international organizations. The paper suggested an approach to integrate SEEA into the policy cycle which is reported here to represent an entire sub-field of literature related to SEEA-EEA, concerned with implementation strategies and application to policy (Vardon, Keith, and Lindenmayer 2019;Ruijs et al. 2019;Vardon et al. 2018). That area of research, along with the literature documenting actual implementation cases, offers a particularly compelling case for organizing international accounting standards around a consistent notion of value, articulated in a small set of specialized measures with well-defined and non-overlapping fields of application. ...
Article
The System of Environmental and Economic Accounting aims at the integration of national accounts with the contributions of the environment. After three decades of development, though, only a portion of it has become an international standard for national accounting. Its uncertain, experimental status reflects the complexities faced by a project that requires a clear and implementable concept of valuation to be applied to non-market goods. In this paper, we review the debate between competing theories of value that had a role in the early development of the System and we follow the discussion that first accompanied the drafting of its current version and is now informing a revision process that will lead to a new edition of the Experimental Ecosystem Accounting module by 2021. The next developments and every step made toward integration will affect not just the content of the national accounts but also how it can be collected and used.
... Although many scholars have studied ESV in various regions based on LUCC, including cities, forests, and watersheds [28,58,59], no one has studied the LUCC and ecosystem service value of island cities. Based on LUCC data and economic and social data, this study evaluated the ecosystem service value of the Zhoushan Islands from 2000 to 2020, and used FLUS software to simulate and predict the LUCC and ESV of the Zhoushan Islands in 2025, providing a new way for the evaluation of the island city ecosystem. ...
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Islands are the confluence of terrestrial ecology and marine ecology. With urban expansion and economic development, the ecological environment of islands is facing serious threats. In order to study the island area land use change/cover (LUCC) and its impact on the ecosystem service value (ESV), this study was conducted. This study evaluated the ESV of Zhoushan Islands based on the LUCC, using the equivalent coefficient method, and simulated and analyzed the ESV of Zhoushan Islands in 2025 under different scenarios using the "Future Land Use Simulation Model". The results showed: (1) From 2000 to 2020, the ESV of Zhoushan Islands showed a "∧" type change trend, and the total amount decreased by 14.1141 million yuan. (2) The spatial distribution and changes of ESV have a certain regularity. The ESV in the center of the island and in the water system area is relatively high but does not change significantly over time, while the ESV of urban buildings and cultivated areas on the edge of the island is low, and, over time, the change is significant. (3) Compared with 2020, the total ESV under the business-as-usual (BAU) scenario shows a slow downward trend, the ESV under the socio-economic development (SED) scenario shows a significant downward trend, and the total ESV under the ecological protection priority (EPP) scenario has increased. This research provides a theoretical basis and support for the development and utilization of island space and the improvement of "eco-economy-society" benefits; in addition, the research results provide support for scientific decision-making on the sustainable use of resources in island areas (island cities) and the sustainable management of ecosystems.
... Studies have used various methods to quantify the value of ecosystem services and natural resources. These methods include the contingent valuation method [13], travel cost analysis, production functions, dose-response modeling, energy analysis, the hedonic price method [14], and the System of Environmental Economic Accounting: Experimental Ecosystem Accounting [15]. Over the past decade, numerous studies have relied on expert opinions and knowledge to identify and rank ecosystem services [16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]. ...
Article
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To ensure that ecosystem services are included in decision-making processes, many studies have relied on expert opinions and knowledge to identify, rank, and assess willingness to pay. In this study, expert opinions according to their expertise in hydrology, ecology, and sociology were surveyed and compared in terms of (1) recognition and ranking of hydrological ecosystem services (HESs) and (2) willingness to pay for HESs. The decision-making process was also investigated, specifically the rankings of factors in experts’ plans for climate change adaptation. The experts’ recognition of and opinions concerning HESs were positively correlated at various levels with intention to pay (i.e., whether respondents were willing to pay for HESs). Most experts recognized the importance of HESs and allocated high average scores of 9.15, 8.17, and 8.41 to water yield, sediment export, and nutrient export, respectively, using a scale from 1 (least important) to 10 (most important). The percentage of sociologists (100%) exhibited greater intention to pay than those of hydrologists (70%) and ecologists (93%), respectively. Experts prioritized environmental impact over economic cost in policy decision-making, and they differed significantly by field in terms of their rankings of the functional, economic, environmental, and social considerations of decision-making. The results revealed significant differences among experts in their decision-making preferences according to their fields of knowledge. The experts of a specific study field may be more willing to pay for that than for another. Greater intellectual exchange and analysis among experts should be implemented and diverse expert opinions should be solicited in policy decision-making.
... Linked to our discussion in section 3.1, while for ecosystem accounting the LCEU level could be the most suitable accounting unit, many monetary valuation studies collect and analyse data representative at the level of the administrative unit (EAU) for aggregation and welfare accounting purposes. But the suitable aggregation level and unit may also depend on the user group or economic unit to which the benefits are ascribed in the accounts (Vardon et al. 2019)for private ES values, BSU level accounts; for public ES, LCEU level. ...
Conference Paper
Construction of ecosystem accounts requires conversion of biophysical measurements of ecosystem services supply and use into monetary terms. A range of valuation methods are compatible with the System of Environmental-Economic Accounting (SEEA) methodological framework for this purpose. Benefit transfer (BT) method is not seen as an eligible method in SEEA, even if pilot studies have already employed value transfers (either in physical or monetary terms) in practice. We propose that eligibility of BT should be reconsidered especially at this experimental stage of ecosystem accounting and explicit guidance for its use should be developed. BT is a fast and cost-effective method that can enable empirical applications in situations of limited resources. In this paper we elaborate on the challenges that may arise when using BT for ecosystem accounting purposes, namely in relation to a) value metrics b) spatial dimension of accounts c) application process of BT d) accuracy and errors of BT estimates and e) reproducibility of accounts. For addressing these challenges, we suggest that BT process is adjusted for the use in accounting context and the policy purpose of BT deployment is explicitly identified. We stress the need for developing and pursuing standardized procedures for BT applications and place particular focus on accounting for spatial information ideally during the operation of primary studies as well as during possible BT applications. We also highlight specific areas for further research to inform guidelines for acceptable transfer errors and to develop approaches to minimize transfer errors. With reference to reproducibility of accounts we suggest the use of function transfers particularly in case of ecosystem accounting at national level. Keywords: value
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Technical Report
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Thesis
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Valuing natural capital is fundamental to measuring sustainability. The United Nations Environment Programme, World Bank, and other agencies have called for inclusion of the value of natural capital in sustainability metrics, such as inclusive wealth. Much has been written about the importance of natural capital, but consistent, rigorous valuation approaches compatible with the pricing of traditional forms of capital have remained elusive. We present a guiding quantitative framework enabling natural capital valuation that is fully consistent with capital theory, accounts for biophysical and economic feedbacks, and can guide interdisciplinary efforts to measure sustainability. We illustrate this framework with an application to groundwater in the Kansas High Plains Aquifer, a rapidly depleting asset supporting significant food production. We develop a 10-y time series (1996−2005) of natural capital asset prices that accounts for technological, institutional, and physical changes. Kansas lost approximately $110 million per year (2005 US dollars) of capital value through groundwater withdrawal and changes in aquifer management during the decade spanning 1996–2005. This annual loss in wealth is approximately equal to the state’s 2005 budget surplus, and is substantially more than investments in schools over this period. Furthermore, real investment in agricultural capital also declined over this period. Although Kansas’ depletion of water wealth is substantial, it may be tractably managed through careful groundwater management and compensating investments in other natural and traditional assets. Measurement of natural capital value is required to inform management and ongoing investments in natural assets. http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2016/02/04/1513779113.abstract
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"Here, I review the motivation and science behind efforts to characterize and manage ecosystems as capital assets. I then describe some recent work to evaluate the potential for sustaining biodiversity and ecosystem services in human-dominated landscapes"
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