Book Reviews: Handbook on the Economics of Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity


Innovative approaches have been developed by economists to analyze various types of services and natural ecosystems. Part I of the handbook ‘Setting The scene: the need for eco-system service valuation’ lays the basis for further analysis in the book by a series of chapters on usefulness and limits of innovative approaches for improving and motivating policy action. Chapter I present the general framework of natural capital accounting as part of a more comprehensive approach for measuring long-term economic well-being. The analysis of natural wealth accounts over a decade from 1995 to 2008 shows as to how the economic development can be understood as a process towards building wealth. In this process, the composition of wealth has changed over the last decade; shifting away from natural capital and toward produced capita! and, increasingly, intangible capital. This changing composition has in return an impact on long-term human welfare. The accounting exercises provide the basic framework to better assess such impacts and the many trade-offs between the various forms of capital – for example, decay in natural capital can have an impact through the moral and aesthetic satisfactions afforded by preserving wild areas and the biodiversity they shelter. As highlighted by the authors, the main challenges in these accounting exercises is data availability and the development of more fine-grained indicators that can range from the building of single composite indexes lo complex multi-criteria indicators that do not presuppose substitutability among the different forms of capital.

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