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,
recreation and 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, and how these are linked to biodiversity. It
also extensively addresses the economics of ecosystem services, the use
of valuation methods to measure these values, and the use of decision
support tools to structure and inform decision making. 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 do
the following:

- Understand how ecosystems produce ecosystem services and how
ecosystems change over time and space.
- Describe how biodiversity relates to ecosystem services.
- Describe what services ecosystems and biodiversity provide and how
these services can be measured.
- Discuss the social and economic importance of ecosystem services and
biodiversity and what drives these economic and cultural values.
- Describe ecosystem service values from an economic point of view, and
discuss the main characteristics and elements of different (economic)
valuation methods.
- Discuss decision making tools and methods for appraisal of ecosystem
services, from both a public and a private sector perspective, and
conduct a rapid appraisal.

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 MSc. Hanna Dijkstra.
Teachers involved are Dr. Mark Koetse, Prof. Dr. Peter Verburg, Dr.
Nynke Schulp, Dr. Pieter van Beukering and MSc. Liselotte Hagendoorn.
lecturers in this course may include:

- 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: