What ecosystem services does nature provide? What is the monetary value of these services? How to compare different values? The Ecosystem Services Valuation Database, ESVD, gives the answers.
ESVD is a tool and database which contains over 6700 monetary values for ecosystem services from every corner of our planet. The values contained in the ESVD are location-specific and where possible, standardized in dollars per hectare per year. By communicating such values in standardized monetary units, we allow for comparability and for easily-accessible data to make nature count in decision-making!
Below you can read more about the context and mission of the ESVD.
Nature contributes to human welfare with many different direct and indirect benefits, called ecosystem services. There is a general agreement on the existence of four (or three according to some sources) main types of ecosystem services which nature provides:
Provisioning services are the products or resources that can be harvested or extracted from ecosystems (e.g., food and raw materials).
Regulating services are the benefits obtained from ecosystem processes that maintain environmental conditions beneficial to individuals and society (e.g., air quality, flood protection, biological control).
Habitat services are the benefits of ecosystems providing space (habitat) for biodiversity protection and gene-pool maintenance (in-situ conservation of valuable genetic material). Some lists, like CICES, combine Regulating and Habitat services into one category.
Cultural services are the experiential and intangible benefits related to the perceived or actual qualities of ecosystems, i.e. the non-material benefits from spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation and aesthetic experiences, including the appreciation of the existence of diverse species).
Context of the ESVD
Our social, economic and financial systems depend on biodiversity and on nature, not only for our food, but also for our well-being. Ecosystems provide many different services - services that communities use, without consciously considering their value. Not only our communities, but also our economies, businesses and financial institutions are impacted greatly by the stability of nature and different ecosystem services. The Dutch Central Bank concluded in a 2020 report that 36% (510 billion euro's) of Dutch investments are highly dependent on ecosystem services and therefore are at risk in case of ecosystem degradation and loss of biodiversity.
The continued loss of ecosystems and biodiversity is endangering the prosperity of current and future generations (Dasgupta, 2021). To make better informed decisions about the trade-offs involved in ecosystem management, land-use change, or any activity affecting biodiversity, we need better information about the full importance of ecosystems to our wellbeing. However, a good understanding of the many ecosystem services that nature provides is often missing. Furthermore, the monetary value of these services is difficult to assess as the many thousands of existing studies from all over the globe are difficult to find, they use different methodologies and currencies, they focus on different ecosystems and they were are published in different years and they can be hard to find.
If ecosystem services and nature are to be integrated into decision-making which is needed for the protection of biodiversity and for sustainable use of resources, we need simple and accessible databases and tools. This is where ESVD comes in.
We want to make nature count in decision-making.
ESVD assists in this systemic change because it provides easily accessible information on the monetary valuation of ecosystem services throughout the world.
ESVD currently hosts the largest global publicly available collection of standardised monetary values of ecosystem services, covering data from all ecosystems and all ecosystem services all over the world. The focus of the database is gathering information on economic welfare values related to ecosystem services measured in monetary units. The data is location-specific and standardized in dollars per hectare per year, allowing for readily-available values covering virtually every context.
We work together with financial institutions, (inter)governmental organisations, environmental NGOs and businesses. We do what we do not only for the greater good of humanity, but also because it provides interesting business cases and allows for practical implementation of legislation.