05 mayo 2011

La actualización del valor de la biodiversidad

Updating the monetary value of biodiversity

New research has updated a major report on the monetary value of biodiversity. The second EU-funded Cost of Policy Inaction (COPI II) report has expanded the existing valuation database to include more regions, more ecosystems and more information on the services they provide and their economic values. The new data could be used to calculate a more accurate figure for the global value of biodiversity and ecosystem services.
"Ecosystem services" are the benefits provided by nature, such as water and air purification, fisheries, timber, food, nutrient cycling and climate change regulation. These services often have no markets and no prices, so their loss is rarely accounted for.
As well as the first Cost of Policy Inaction report (COPI), this new report has informed 'The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB)' study1 ,an independent project that the European Commission is supporting together with several partners as part of its commitment to strengthen the communication of the value of natural capital and ecosystem services. COPI estimated that by 2050 there could be a loss of €14 trillion in the value of ecosystem services due to biodiversity decline if no additional policy action was taken. This is equivalent to 7 per cent of the gross global domestic product (GDP) in 2050.

The COPI II study updated the COPI data so as to make it a more elaborate basis for running future analyses of the cost of policy inaction on biodiversity. It used more extensive literature review to fill in some of the knowledge gaps and fine tuned existing methods and assumptions. It expanded the study to previously uncovered regions in North and South America, Australasia, China, and other parts of Asia and Africa and provided more data on certain types of biomes, such as temperate and tropical forests and grasslands. It also gathered more data on some ecosystem services, such as recreation, climate regulation and water purification.

COPI provided both „high‟ and „low‟ aggregated estimates of the cost of the loss of ecosystem services corresponding to land use and biodiversity changes in a business-as-usual scenario. The „low‟ estimate was a „partial estimate‟, and the „high‟ estimate a „fuller estimate‟ of the value of the lost ecosystem services. However, even the “fuller estimate” did not cover all services and biomes given data limitations. The data expansion conducted in COPI II would allow more ecosystem services and biomes to be covered and reduces the need for gap filling if used as a basis to build up a similar aggregated estimate.
The decrease in high estimates as compared to the values found in COPI was mainly due to reductions in values for air quality maintenance and soil quality maintenance. The increase in low estimates was due to inclusion of values where none were previously available. For example, as the COPI database had no values for Mediterranean shrublands, estimates had to be based on assumptions. COPI II instead identified new figures for the value of services, such as water purification, to produce a revised estimate based on actual data from the literature of €483 per hectare per year (this is the European „average‟ and values will vary considerably for individual sites).
Despite the expansion of the data used, substantial gaps still exist. The database holds no or very few entries for some regions, such as Japan/Korea, Russia and Eastern Europe. Biomes including ice, tundra, boreal forests and cool coniferous forests also lack data, as do the ecosystem services of local or regional temperature regulation, disease regulation and technology development from nature (bio-mimicry). The COPI II team suggested that more data is required before running a whole new COPI analysis to provide an updated global aggregated estimate of the cost of the loss of ecosystem services. Much of this data could be provided by on-going work on TEEB.

1. See http://www.teebweb.org/

For more information on EU biodiversity policy, please see: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/enveco/biodiversity

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