" BES Project Abstracts 2006
Institute of Ecosystem Studies

2006 BES Annual Meeting Presentation and Poster Abstracts


Psychosocial Services Provided by Urban Ecosystems: Another Economic Valuation Approach
 
Wolf, Kathleen
Co-Authors: Dr. Kathleen L. Wolf
 
Abstract: Social science research has confirmed long-standing claims about the psychosocial benefits that people gain from nature experiences in cities. Investigations of the past several decades have generated a diverse and substantial understanding of how the presence of trees and nature in cities provides human services, ranging across human scales of individuals, neighborhoods and entire cities. Examples include health and healing, cognitive restoration, worker productivity, and crime incidence. Economic valuation of psychosocial benefits is needed to better integrate this knowledge into municipal, state, and federal urban resources programs. The environmental services of urban ecosystems are now widely recognized, are being reliably valued in economic terms, and incorporated into urban resource and planning models. Analogous products are possible concerning nature-based human services. The valuation process, in a very general sense, starts with identification and definition of a benefit or service. Benefit units are described (such as per nature unit, per individual, per neighborhood etc.) and valued (using deferred costs, hedonic pricing, contingent valuation and other econometrics). The value units are then aggregated across specified populations or geographic units. Multiple benefit types may be combined into models (such as USDA Forest Service’s UFORE or STRATUM). There is extensive scientific evidence of human services benefits derived from urban trees and nature - next steps are valuation, aggregation and modeling.