Current role of social benefits in ecosystem service assessments

Ariane Walz
Monday, 20th June 2016
Current role of social benefits in ecosystem service assessments

A new paper by OPERAs member Ariane Walz and colleagues has just been published on the current benefits of social cohesion.



Ecosystem services have a significant impact on human wellbeing. While ecosystem services are frequently represented by monetary values, social values and underlying social benefits remain underexplored. The purpose of this study is to assess whether and how social benefits have been explicitly addressed within socio-economic and socio-cultural ecosystem services research, ultimately allowing a better understanding between ecosystem services and human well-being. In this paper, we reviewed 115 international primary valuation studies and tested four hypotheses associated to the identification of social benefits of ecosystem services using logistic regressions. Tested hypotheses were that (1) social benefits are mostly derived in studies that assess cultural ecosystem services as opposed to other ecosystem service types, (2) there is a pattern of social benefits and certain cultural ecosystem services assessed simultaneously, (3) monetary valuation techniques go beyond expressing monetary values and convey social benefits, and (4) directly addressing stakeholdeŕs views the consideration of social benefits in ecosystem service assessments. Our analysis revealed that (1) a variety of social benefits are valued in studies that assess either of the four ecosystem service types, (2) certain social benefits are likely to co-occur in combination with certain cultural ecosystem services, (3) of the studies that employed monetary valuation techniques, simulated market approaches overlapped most frequently with the assessment of social benefits and (4) studies that directly incorporate stakeholder's views were more likely to also assess social benefits.