Valuing Forest Ecosystem Services: A training manual for planners and project developers

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Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)

A changing climate, a growing population, increasing demand for food and energy, expanding urban areas and many other factors pose severe threats to natural resources and biodiversity worldwide. The degradation of ecosystems can result in the potentially irreversible loss of ecosystem functions and services, with the ultimate effect of reducing human well-being. One of the biggest challenges facing humanity, therefore, is to manage natural resources in such a way that trade-offs between the increasing needs of the global population and the maintenance of ecosystem health are avoided or minimized.

Although there is universal consensus that ecosystems and natural resources are important, determining their value to society is still subject to considerable debate. Scientific literature on the topic has grown, but technical information and training materials are still uncommon. The aim of this manual is to help fill the gap. The manual is intended as a training tool for officers and field practitioners working in environmental and forest agencies and other relevant areas of government. It focuses on forests and other tree-based ecosystems in Bangladesh but the concepts, methods, and approaches described herein can be applied to a broad range of situations.

The target audience of Valuing Forest Ecosystem Services: A training manual for planners and project developers comprises those people who must consider the environmental costs and benefits of development projects but who don’t necessarily have a strong background in environmental economics. The aim is to build a robust knowledge of ecosystem services and their economic valuation through a step-wise approach. The manual explains the underlying concepts, provides definitions, sets out the principles of financial mathematics and economic valuation, and provides examples and exercises. Users will obtain a solid understanding of how to approach and deal with the valuation of ecosystem services and how to interpret valuation results and thereby inform development project design and decision making.

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