2023
  • Non-ICIMOD publication

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Ecosystem services valuation for conservation and development decisions: A review of valuation studies and tools in the Far Eastern Himalaya

  • Kripa Shrestha
  • Bandana Shakya
  • Biraj Adhikari
  • Mani Nepal
  • Yi Shaoliang
  • Summary

There has been an increasing focus on the valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services in global research, which has improved our understanding of how nature benefits humanity and what actions can help sustain ecosystem services. This, however, is not true for the transboundary Far Eastern Himalaya – a landscape shared by China, India, and Myanmar – even though the three countries have a significant amount of research on ecosystem services valuation. We conducted a systematic review of ecosystem services valuation research in these three countries to: i) understand what ecosystem services have been valued, ii) what valuation methods and tools have been used, and iii) how valuation studies have been linked with conservation and development decision making. In our analysis of 195 peer-reviewed articles published between 2010 and 2021, we found a progressive trend in valuation research, especially in China. About 77% of the literature focused on economic valuation of ecosystem services related to recreation, water regulation, provisions from forest ecosystems, and carbon sequestration, while 13% focused on biophysical and socio-cultural valuation. Given that the environmental degradation and economic development challenges in the landscapes are governed by diverse stakeholder values and perspectives, we recommend that valuation exercises consider a full range of ecosystem services covering both tangible and intangible values. More importantly, we propose that valuation of ecosystem services that are a shared priority, or those of global and regional value, could strengthen regional cooperation among countries in the Far Eastern Himalayan Landscape.