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SP08 - Ecological and economic valuation of ecosystem services


Prof. Dr. Ernst-August Nuppenau
Justus Liebig University of Giessen
Institute of Agricultural Policy and Market Research
Senckenbergstraße 3
35390 Giessen

Phone: +49 641 9937022
Fax: +49 641 9937039


Ongoing Research


The impact of human beings on earth is increasing with their population and the nature of their land use activities; a common symptom is land degradation. As we the general awareness of the linkages between the ecological and socio-economic dynamics in our societies increases, means to consider the environment in decision making in a meaningful way are being sought. Engaging in a decision making process implies the use of a set of criteria which guide the decision. These criteria and their weights are chosen according to the priorities of the decision maker; and underlying those are his values. Values thus play an important role in the design of sustainable land use.

Until now, the valuation of nature has contributed greatly and mostly to rising awareness on the usefulness of nature for the functioning of our society and economies by attempting to quantify its worth. The question of how to use the valuation of nature and natural capital for an improved decision making process is being explored at the moment. The SP08 sub-project aims to make a contribution to this effort by developing a framework to incorporate the provision of ecosystem services in land use planning or design. The working group puts its emphasis on the fact that valuation provides opportunities to transparently express the values considered in decision making processes for land use. It aims at providing more than one valuation type by including ecological indicators, economic indicators and multi-criteria processes.


SP08 will focus on existing and potential types of land uses in the Okavango catchment, with different levels of reliance on river waters. Six work packages were defined. In task 1, a conceptual framework for the translation of ecosystem processes studied in the natural science work packages into ecosystem services will be identified. A farming system analysis will deliver much information on economic-ecological relationships at the farm level and will allow the calculation of first simple value indicators (task 2). Bio-economic modeling makes the link between results of the farming system analysis and the ecological dynamics investigated in other work packages. Resource values will be measured using the concept of shadow prices (task 4). Parallel, an emphasis on tourism-related services and the issue of (re)distribution of benefits from tourism in order to preserve water availability in the whole catchment will be addressed in tasks 3 and 5. Finally, a meta-analysis will attempt to draw a holistic view of the various findings by comparing scenarios of land use alternatives (task 6). This analysis will constitute a step towards the formulation of sustainable land use patterns.

The team

The team consists of one consultant and eight researchers and students from four research institutions in Germany, Angola, Namibia and Botswana. Our expertise is in resource and environmental economics as well as environmental management and agriculture. We have experience in institutional environmental economics, bio-economic modeling, stated preference elicitation, farming system analysis, ect…


The working group will use methods derived both from orthodox and heterodox economics. The valuation of marginal changes in ecosystem service provision at the scale of the farming system and willingness to pay methods will be completed by the calculation of ecological indicators (HANPP) and energy flows within farming systems. Scenarios for land use will be compared using a multi-criteria analysis. At the scale of the catchment, the potential contributions of a Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) scheme to the sustainable water use of water will be explored.

Photo gallery

Large scale irrigation schemes in the Kavango, Mashere, Namibia.
© S.Domptail, 2010
Flood recession and vegetables fields in the Kavango, NkurenKuru, Namibia.
© S.Domptail, 2010
Cattle foraging in the forest near settlements in the Kavango, Namibia.
© S.Domptail, 2010
Field cleared in the forest, near Chitembo, Angola.
© S.Domptail, 2010