Evaluation of Ecosystem Services Through Revealed Policy Preferences: Exchange Rates Between Scientific Currencies

  • Tomaz Ponce DentinhoEmail author
Part of the New Frontiers in Regional Science: Asian Perspectives book series (NFRSASIPER, volume 24)


Rational public choices imply that total marginal values of alternative decisions should be the same along all those decisions. Concerning the environment, those values are related to production services, regulating services, cultural services and supporting services. The total value of the environment must take into account all these services. Nevertheless, the various scientific disciplines that influence decision-making are not equally specialised in the evaluation of the various services. Ecologists evaluate the ecosystems’ sustainability and analyse the environment capacity to recycle emissions and have a better understanding of the regulation services. Economists evaluate and valuate costs and benefits looking for alternative policies but are more sensible to environmental production services. In the end each discipline tends to evaluate the environment based on its own frame of reference. Decision support systems combine all these evaluations in order to recommend the best solutions taking into account all the interests involved. But only when the decisions are taken and implemented it is possible to say that all these different evaluations of facts are transformed into values associated with acts, impacts and effects.

The objective of this essay is not to propose an alternative decision support system able to recommend best solutions for policymakers. The purpose is to introduce a methodology able to estimate the decision rules revealed by public choices. It is assumed that different disciplinary evaluations can be designed to complement each other rather than to compete with each other. It is also presupposed that each one of these evaluations could be allocated to the same spatial and temporal referential of decision-making. Finally, it is alleged that rational public choices should be consistent so that the trade-off between disciplinary evaluations of alternative decisions should be similar along all the decisional boundaries, where one decision must have the same marginal value as the alternative solution.

The methodology is exemplified for three types of decisions: the design of a protected area, the design of a land use plan for the protection of water springs and the management plan of a marine ecosystem. The results include not only the estimates of the decision rules revealed by former public choices but also the design of consistent plans implicit in the revealed decision rules and an assessment of the total value of each plan that combines the ecological, environmental, social and economic valuations through the revealed decision rules.


Ecosystem services Valuation Land use Land use planning Marine spatial planning Coastal management Cost benefit analysis 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Singapore 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of AzoresPonta DelgadaPortugal

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