Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 42, Issue 1, pp 39–51 | Cite as

Accounting for Ecosystems



Millennium Ecosystem Assessment documented the importance of ecosystem services. It is therefore important to include these services in the national system of economic accounts. This requires estimation of “accounting prices” for ecosystems, that is, the marginal value of a change in the size of the system. This raises a number of questions: What do we mean by the “size” of the system? What is the dynamics of the system? How do we quantify the impacts on services from a change in the size of the system and finally how do we value these impacts? We discuss these questions in a few examples of ecosystems, and valuation as such is not the major problem. The major problem is the lack of information of the appropriate dynamic model for most systems. We therefore suggest that economists and ecologists should set priorities on which ecosystems should be the first objects for study for these; we should test the possibilities of estimating the accounting prices.


Dynamics of ecosystems Ecosystem habitat service for fisheries Ecosystem pollination service Ecosystem services Natural stocks accounting price Resilience Sustainable development 



System of national accounts


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karl-Göran Mäler
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sara Aniyar
    • 2
  • Åsa Jansson
    • 2
  1. 1.Stockholm Resilience CenterStockholm UniversityStockholmSweden
  2. 2.Beijer Institute of Ecological EconomicsRoyal Swedish Academy of SciencesStockholmSweden

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