Value of Ecosystem Services


Course Objective

One of the hot topics in environmental management today is the concept
of "ecosystem services". This concept can be defined as the benefits
that people obtain from ecosystems. Important ecosystem services are
food, fuel, timber and water provision, carbon storage and
sequestration, soil formation, climate and disease regulation, aesthetic
benefits and spiritual values. By putting ecosystem services central in
the debate on nature conservation, the societal benefits of nature
conservation and the need to align conservation and development goals
are stressed. Quantification and apportionment of ecosystem services and
biodiversity are major challenges. This course aims to assess the
importance of ecosystem services and biodiversity for nature, the
economy and people.

Course Content

The course focuses on an understanding of what specific services are
provided by ecosystems, how these are linked to biodiversity. It
attempts to remain close to the practicality of quantification. It will
then continue to address the economics of ecosystem services. Various
ecosystems (e.g. forests, coral reefs, wetlands, rivers) and forms of
biodiversity are covered (e.g. wildlife, flora). Next to main and guest
lectures and debate, the course contains a six-week case study carried
out in groups of 3-4 students. The subjects addressed in this group
assignment either come from real "clients" such as governmental and
non-governmental organizations, or can also be developed by the students
themselves. The main objective of the assignment is to apply the skills
taught in the course in a real life example. More details of the
assignment are provided below.

After having participated in this module, students should be able to
answer the following questions:

- How do ecosystems produce ecosystem services and how are ecosystems
changing over time and space?
- How does biodiversity relate to ecosystem services?
- What services do ecosystems and biodiversity provide and how can these
services be measured?
- What is the social and economic importance of the ecosystem services
and biodiversity and what drives these economic and cultural values?
- What instruments are available to mobilize payments for ecosystem
services necessary for sustainable management of ecosystems and
- What is the role of ecosystem services in alleviating poverty?
- How to conduct a rapid appraisal of ecosystem services taking into
account the above-mentioned issues?

Teaching Methods

- Hoorcollege (h);
- Werkcollege (w);
- Project (pro).

Method of Assessment

- Closed book exam (T: 60%).
- Group paper and paper presentation (V+Pres: 40%);

Students must pass both elements (5.5 or higher).

Entry Requirements

Students do not require a specific disciplinary background, although
affinity with ecology and economics is useful.


The main written source is a book (i.e. Bouma and Van Beukering 2015)
which is especially written for this specialization in Ecosystem

Bouma, J. and P.J.H. van Beukering (2015). Ecosystem services: from
concept to practice. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge.

In addition, several freely downloadable journal articles and papers are
part of the reading material.

Target Audience

Students with an interest in the link between the natural environment
and society. This interest may vary widely, possibly including topics
such as nature conservation, tourism, food production, poverty,
international trade, education, and landscapes.

Additional Information

The course is coordinated by Dr. Mark Koetse and Hanna Dijkstra MSc.
Teachers involved are Dr. Mark Koetse, Prof. Dr. Peter Verburg, Dr.
Nynke Schulp, Dr. Boris van Zanten and Dr. Pieter van Beukering. Guest
lecturers in this course may include:

- Dr. Rudolf de Groot (Wageningen University & Research);
- Dr. Ben ten Brink (PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency);
- MSc Viviane Luján Gallegos (Wolfs Company).

General Information

Course Code AM_468024
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 400
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Science
Course Coordinator dr. M.J. Koetse
Examiner dr. M.J. Koetse
Teaching Staff dr. M.J. Koetse
dr. P.J.H. van Beukering

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture, Excursion
Target audiences

This course is also available as: