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From ecosystem services to benefits of the Baltic Sea - indicators and threats

image of From ecosystem services to benefits of the Baltic Sea - indicators and threats

Eutrophication, oil spills, and invasive species. Indicators and human benefits from ecosystem services of the Baltic Sea. These were the token of discussion at the ”Nordic Workshop on Economic Analysis of the State of the Baltic Sea, NorWEBS” in Helsinki on 19-20 November 2009, arranged by MTT Agrifood Research Finland. A joint researcher team of economists and marine experts assembled at the workshop to discuss the three main threats to the ecology of the Baltic Sea and find respective indicators of the state of Baltic Sea to be used in economic valuation. Economic valuation of the ecosystem services is required for a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis on protective measures. Based on the presentations and discussions held in the NorWEBS-workshop we propose a framework for deriving the combined benefits from the Baltic Sea ecosystem services.

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Eutrophication

The adverse effects of eutrophication are recognized as one of the largest threats to the Baltic Sea ecosystem (HELCOM 2009a). These effects have also direct impacts on human activities, like water recreation and commercial fishing. Thus, policies reducing eutrophication will have an effect on public welfare. To evaluate the economic feasibility of such policies, monetary effects of both the costs and benefits are required. To compare the costs and benefits in commensurate units it is necessary to link the nutrient concentrations in the sea, the units for which abatement costs are calculated, to benefits from nutrient reductions. The link from nutrient concentrations to benefits is intuitively straightforward, but for economic analysis we need more exact knowledge of how changes in nutrient concentrations affect through ecosystem services, ultimately, human welfare. There have been few attempts on valuing specific ecosystem services and their changes in the Baltic Sea (e.g. Sandström 1996, Söderqvist & Scharin 2000, Kosenius 2009), but these studies are predominantly country-specific case-studies where more encompassing estimates are needed for the valuation of the Baltic Sea.

English

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