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Natural resources valuation

There are many arguments in favour of assessing natural areas from an economic viewpoint. Some of the foremost include the fact that the economic valuation of the natural environment is a useful, complementary tool in the development of policies aimed at fostering sustainable development.

Since natural resources do not usually have a market price, it is necessary to use different, non-market techniques to assess their value. These techniques can be divided into the following groups:>

The research team used different valuation methods in the work carried out to assess different ecosystems in Spain, including Mount Jaizkibel and the Spanish sea and continental shelf, among others.


Development of innovative tools for understanding marine biodiversity and assessing good environmental status (DEVOTES)

Aim of the project: To better understand the relationships between pressures from human activities and climatic influences and their effects on marine ecosystems, including biological diversity, in order to support the ecosystem based management and fully achieve the Good Environmental Status (GES) of marine waters. In this framework the project will test indicators and develop new, innovative ones to assess biodiversity in a harmonized way; develop, test and validate innovative integrative modelling and monitoring tools to improve our understanding of ecosystem and biodiversity changes, for integration into a unique and holistic assessment; and propose and disseminate strategies and measures for ecosystems’ adaptive management, including the active role of industry and relevant stakeholders.

Funding: Unión Europea (FP7) y el Dpto. Agricultura, Pesca y Alimentación del Gobierno Vasco (2013-2015).


Valuation of Spain's natural assets (VANE)

Aim of the project: Aim of the project. To enable the identification and economic valuation of environmental functions and services in Spain. To this end, the VANE project focused on identifying Spain's natural assets and establishing physical models for assigning an economic value to them. It also developed a territorial information system on the country's natural capital, which enables the information and results obtained to be presented in the form of a map. The VANE project constitutes an important first step towards developing economic valuation methods for the services provided by ecosystems, thus helping to increase the amount of information available regarding the benefits offered by the natural environment to society. As part of this project, the team from the Public Economics Institute at the University of the Basque Country assessed both the ocean and the continental shelf.

Funding: Spanish Ministry of Environment (2007-08).

Partners: Universidad de Córdoba, Universidad de Islas Baleares, Instituto Economía Pública (UPV/EHU), ETSIA y ETSIM (Politécnica de Madrid), Universidad de Alcalá y Tragsatec.

Economic Valuation of the Natural Environment of Mount Jaizkibel

Aim of the project: The study consisted of an economic valuation of the natural environment of the Jaizkibel mountain range, located on the coast of Gipuzkoa, with the aim of assessing the loss in value for society that a deterioration of the current quality of said environment would entail. The study was prompted by the Draft Plan for the External Expansion of Pasajes Port, which was compiled by the Port Authorities in 2002 and which contemplated the construction of a new harbour on the coastline outside the bay, at the foot of the north face of Mount Jaizkibel. The methodology used for the valuation was based on the travel cost and contingent choice methods.

Funding: Environment Department of the Basque Country.

Partners: Instituto de Economía Pública (UPV/EHU) y Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona.


| Borja, A., A. Murillas, M. Pascual, M.C. Uyarra (2015). Marine and coastal ecosystems: delivery of goods and services, through conservation. In Ecosystem Services and River Basin Ecohydrology. Eds. L. Chícharo, F. Muller, N. Fohrer, E. Wolanski. Springer.

| Murillas Maza, Arantza, Pilar González, Jorge Virto, Carmen Gallastegui, Javier Fernández Macho (2011). The value of open ocean ecosystems: A case study for the Spanish Economic Exclusive Zone. Natural Resources Forum, 35, pp. 122–133.

| Varios autores (2010) Valoración de los activos naturales en España. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino. Madrid.

| Hoyos, David, Petr Mariel, Javier Fernández-Macho (2009). The influence of cultural identity on the WTP to protect natural resources: Some empirical evidence. Ecological Economics, 69, pp. 2372-2381.

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