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Market-Based Instruments for Ecosystem Services

Market-Based Instruments for Ecosystem Services

Ecosystem services characterise the diverse benefits which the human society obtains from nature. Funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), an interdisciplinary research group analyses the impacts from the use of market-based instruments in climate and nature conservation policies on the provision of ecosystem services. Central European cultural landscapes serve as investigation areas.


Besides the provision of food and fibre, cultural landscapes in Central Europe provide services whose benefits are not or only partially recognised, appreciated or recompensed by our society. These services include climate regulation, water purification and the provision of recreational opportunities.

In recent times, approaches to measure and value ecosystem services have attracted a great deal of attraction. On a world-wide scale, initiatives emerged which apply market-based instruments (MBIs) and in particular payments and rewards for the protection of ecosystems. These include taxes, subsidies and tradable permits.

Objectives & Methodology

The focus of the research group is on the analysis of the relationship between MBIs, ecosystem services and human quality of life.

For a systematic assessment

  • the impacts of MBIs on land use and on the provision of ecosystem services will be analysed;
  • the intended and not intended effects of land-use changes on selected ecosystem services as well as the interactions, conflicts and synergies between ecosystem services will be examined;
  • an assessment of the relationships between ecosystem services and quality of life as well as economic and social welfare is envisaged.

To exemplify this, the project focuses on climate protection and nature conservation related to land use. The research group will focus their research on the biosphere reserves Upper Lusatia (Saxony) and Swabian Alb (Baden-Württemberg).

The main purpose of the project is to develop options for a reconcilement of climate protection, nature conservation and other policy targets. A specific objective will be to highlight potentials for sustainably designed incentive instruments.

Role of Ecologic Institute

Holger Gerdes, Fellow in the field of environmental economics at Ecologic Institute, will be doing his PhD within the framework of this research group, thereby focussing on the valuation of ecosystem services. He aims to estimate the costs and benefits related to alternative land uses by means of an integrative cost-benefit analysis (CBA) and in doing so to combine traditional valuation methods with a multi-criteria analysis (MCA).

This project is part of the Ecologic Institute`s contribution to the International Year of Biodiversity 2010.

Oeko-Institut (Öko-Institut e.V.), Germany
University of Freiburg, Chair for Landscape Management, Germany
May 2009 to April 2013
Project ID
Ecosystem services, Market-based instruments (MBIs), Environmental economics, Europe