Market Valuation Models and Ecosystem Management in Making Legal and Policy Choices

EPA Grant Number: R826612
Title: Market Valuation Models and Ecosystem Management in Making Legal and Policy Choices
Investigators: Salzman, James , King, Dennis , Daily, Gretchen , Ehrlich, Paul , Ruhl, J. B. , Daly, Herman E. , Fischman, Robert
Current Investigators: Salzman, James
Institution: American University , University of Maryland - College Park , Stanford University , Indiana University - Bloomington , Southern Illinois University - Carbondale
Current Institution: American University
EPA Project Officer: Chung, Serena
Project Period: June 1, 1998 through December 31, 1999 (Extended to August 23, 2000)
Project Amount: $163,265
RFA: Decision-Making and Valuation for Environmental Policy (1998) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Environmental Justice


Objectives/Hypotheses: Despite undeniable progress in environmental protection over the last 25 years ecosystems remain under threat, buffeted by the systematic undervaluation of decision making processes and the insufficient protections of environmental law. This project seeks to address this compound failure by practical application of recent scientific and economic research on the valuation of ecosystem services. "Ecosystem services" refer to the numerous conditions and processes associated with natural ecosystems that confer significant benefit to humanity. Recent research has now made feasible a rigorous and, in some cases, economic characterization of the ways in which human well-being depends upon ecosystem services. These services have been shown to be extraordinarily valuable. The project's working hypotheses are that (1) while extremely valuable, ecosystem services are generally not explicitly valued in agency decision making procedures, (2) use of non-monetary valuation methods -- i.e. indicators -- focused on performance measures of local ecosystem services allows prioritization of agency involvement, and (3) legal authority exists to shift the focus of decision making processes to maintenance of ecosystem services, thereby improving ecosystem management and creating a secondary information market for ecosystem services research.


This interdisciplinary project brings together leading economists, ecologists, and legal scholars to transform emerging research on ecosystem services into practically useful and significant decision making models. Empirical research will test hypothesis (1), examining wetlands banking projects to confirm whether they explicitly value ecosystem services. These findings will be combined with non-market valuation methodologies, selection of appropriate indicators, and legal analysis to create decision making models addressing ecosystem services in the context of CERCLA site remediation, wetlands banking, and natural resource damages.

Expected Results:

The decision making models will be presented in a report presenting the research findings and a practical "Users Guide" for decision makers in the field. A workshop involving regulators as well as academics and the regulated community will critique and validate the report's relevance and practical applicability. The final report will prove a critical resource for government officials to consider, value, and protect ecosystem services in their decisions.

Publications and Presentations:

Publications have been submitted on this project: View all 14 publications for this project

Journal Articles:

Journal Articles have been submitted on this project: View all 7 journal articles for this project

Supplemental Keywords:

groundwater, watersheds, habitat, cost-benefit, contingent valuation, conservation, public goods, RFA, Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Economics, decision-making, Ecology and Ecosystems, Social Science, Economics & Decision Making, Environmental Law, contingent valuation, ecosystem valuation, public resources, policy choices, economic research, economic benefits, valuing environmental quality, conservation, market valuation models, wetlands banking, cost benefit, ecosystem management, environmental policy, public values

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 1998
  • 1999 Progress Report
  • Final Report