top of page
Kompensation 1.jpg
Our goal is to preserve our native flower meadows.
Photo: Pixabay Royalty-free
Source: Pixabay
Photo: Pixabay Royalty-free

If we want to secure our social and economic prosperity for the future, we have to start investing in the preservation and regeneration of an intact nature today!

heading 5

Overview of methods for evaluating ecosystem services (by Nele Lienhoop)


Price-based methods - direct market prices
Here, the direct prices to be paid for ecosystem services on the market are used for the assessment. Market prices are usually only available for utility services (products of agriculture, forestry, energy, fisheries, etc.).
Example: The wood turnover as a measure of value for the raw material production performance of a forest (supply of society with the raw material wood). 


Cost-based methods Replacement costs
This method considers the costs that would have to be incurred to technically replace an ecosystem service. Here the market price of the technical substitute or equivalent is the decisive factor.
Example: The cost of aquaculture facilities as a measure of the habitat value of a natural aquatic ecosystem for fish production. 


avoidance costs
The costs that (can) arise from negative environmental influences and that are avoided through ecosystem services are relevant for this assessment approach. Here the market price of the potential damage is the decisive variable.
Example: The (potential) cost of flood damage as a measure of the flood protection performance of a natural floodplain. 


opportunity cost 

In this approach, the economic returns lost in the course of providing ecosystem services (the cost of forgoing the best alternative) are used as the basis for the assessment. Thus, with this approach, the yield from the best alternative ecosystem use is the decisive variable.
Example: The economic returns that could be realized with a river expansion to increase inland waterway transport, but which are forgone in order to ensure a good ecological water body status and the associated ecosystem services, as a benchmark for the value of these services. This is based on the assumption that the benefit of the implemented option must at least correspond to the costs of forgoing the alternative option, otherwise the alternative would be implemented

Compensation for biodiversity losses


main mechanism


Compensation measures are a voluntary or mandatory tool for companies to compensate for unavoidable negative impacts on an ecosystem by funding restoration measures elsewhere (“offsetting”).


Biodiversity conservation potential: what can be achieved? 

  • Compensation makes sense when an intervention is considered unavoidable and the same ecosystem functions can be provided in a similar spatial context. 

  • It is particularly effective when the relocation or restoration of habitats is suitable for the protection of the affected local species and the impacts to be compensated for can be measured using a standardized method. 

  • Most often, compensatory mechanisms address land conversions such as sealing through infrastructure construction or settlements, but they could also be extended to include the effects of cropping and resource extraction. 


Protective measures: what needs to be considered? 

  • Unlike carbon emissions, biodiversity is local and not easily related to a globally measurable quantity. 

  • When considering the decision to take compensatory action, the hierarchy of harm reduction should be followed:
    1) avoidance,
    2) minimization,
    3) similar and equivalent on-site restoration
    4) Compensatory measures elsewhere.

  • The idea of equal and equitable on-site restoration is important so that compensatory measures take account of the uniqueness of local ecosystems.

  • Other important principles for financing restoration projects are compliance with protection goals and designation reasons for protected areas and spatial reference in the case of resettlement. 

  • Finally, the temporal component must also be considered: alternative habitats must exist before the original 

External costs or negative externalities are negative effects on biodiversity that are not reflected in current market prices and are therefore not taken into account in the economic decisions of those who cause them.

You can e.g. B. arise from activities that lead to overexploitation or pollution of ecosystems (see Chapter 4) and affect biodiversity overall. 


These costs, currently implicitly borne by society, should be integrated and “internalised” into economic decision-making. A model could be the pricing of CO2 emissions and their monetary compensation for earmarked project financing to mitigate climate change.

National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina (ed.) 2020: "Global Biodiversity in Crisis - What can Germany and the EU do about it?" Discussion No. 24, Halle (Saale).

Photo: Pixabay Royalty-free

Nature provides valuable 

  • material (e.g. groceries), 

  • regulatory (e.g. regulation of climate and pollination) and 

  • intangible contributions (e.g. learning experiences and inspiration)

for the people (Figure SPM.2). 

These contributions are of vital concern to people's quality of life as they each represent significant economic, social and cultural value (well recognized)2 {2.3.5


Nature's contributions to people, including ecosystem services, are essential for their livelihoods, for the economy and for a good quality of life;
accordingly, they are a prerequisite for the preservation of human life on earth. 

Nature has significant economic and cultural value to the world's societies. For example, it contributes to human health by, among other things, supplying raw materials for the manufacture of medicines, offering food for a varied diet and supporting the maintenance of mental and physical health through green spaces.

MEDIAN VALUES of important regulating ecosystem services are among others

  • regulation of freshwater quantity and quality $1,965 per hectare per year,

  • the conservation of natural habitats ($765 per hectare per year), 

  • climate regulation ($464 per hectare per year) and 

  • air quality regulation ($289 per hectare per year)

  • the pollination ????

  • soil formation (humus) ???

  • flood control and erosion control ??? 

bottom of page