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Ecological economics

-sub-discipline of economics that places valuation on components of the environment

-closely allied to conservation biology, as it seeks to integrate the thinking of ecologists and economists into a transdiscipline aimed at developing a sustainable world

-develop methods to value biodiversity by integrating economic valuation with ecology, environmental science, sociology and ethics and then, based on those new valuations, design better public policies related to conservation and environmental issues


open-access resource

-natural resources such as water, air, and soil
-collectively owned by society at large or owned by no one at all, with availability to everyone who is part of that society

-tragedy of the commons: the value of the open-access resource that is gradually lost to all of society


Precautionary principle

-it may be better to not approve a project that has risk associated with it and to err on the side of doing no harm to the environment rather than to do harm unintentionally or unexpectedly.

-rooted in environmental uncertainty
-standardize and use mathematical formulas to guide decision making process


Direct benefits

-human consumption (depletion)
--fish and meat, fuelwood, timber and other building materials, medicinal plants, edible fruits and plants


Indirect benefits

-function of ecosystems
-non-consumptive values
--photosynthetic fixation of solar energy and thereby providing the support system for other species, maintaining water cycles, regulating climate, production of and protection of soil, absorption and breakdown of pollutants
---flood control, soil fertility, pollution control, drinking water, recreation and tourism (revenue), education and biological services


Consumptive use values

-nonmarket value of resources such as fuelwood, game meat, etc. consumed directly, without market intervention. (consumed locally)

-replacement cost approach: consumptive use value can be assigned to a product by considering how much people would have to pay if they has to buy an equivalent product when their local source is no longer available


Productive use values

-resources that are harvested from the wild and sold in both national and international commercial markers that are assigned a value.
--valued at the price paid at the first point of sale minus the costs incurred up to that point

*all of the 20 most commonly prescribed medicines in the USA are based on chemicals first discovered in natural products



-directed towards exotic, often threatened, natural environments, intended to support conservation efforts and observe wildlife.
-destruction and disturbance can be an effect from created areas for humans to visit.
-protected islands of land (ecosystems) reduces their conservation value


Existence value

non-use value that can be assigned to biodiversity

example: economists can attempt to measure how much people are willing to pay to protect a species from going extinct or an ecosystem from being destroyed


Bequest value

a category of existence value which is how much people are willing to pay to protect something for their children or future generations


Cost-benefit analysis

compares values gained against the costs of the project or resource use

-notoriously difficult to calculate, because benefits and costs change over time and are difficult to measure

-example: sustainable logging coexisting with fishing and tourism in Biscuit Bay would result in the most revenue, but ultimately unrealistic. Resulting in the area being a marine sanctuary without lodding


Option value

determined by the prospect for possible future benefits for human society, such as new medicines, possible future food sources, and future genetic resources.
-part of indirect use values