week 1


There are 6 steps to estimate the economic benefits and costs of action:

1. Inception
Identification of the scope, loacation, spatial scale, and strategic focus of the study

2. Geographical characteristics
Assessment of quantity, spatial distribution, and ecological characteristics

3. Types of ecosystem services
Analysis of ecosystem services stocks and flows

4. Role of ecosystem services in community livelihoods and economic valuation
Role of the assessed ecosystem services in the livelihoods of the communities; role of overall economic development

5. Land degradation patterns and pressure
Identification of land degradation patterns, drivers and pressure on the sustainable management of land resources

6. Cost-benefit analysis and decision-making
Assessment of sustainable land management options

+1 step: Take action!

Read more: ELD Interim Report p 42

1. Read UNU INWEH Chapter 1.1 - 1.2

2. Describe a piece of land that's significant to you. What is its value to you and/or your family & community? Please post your brief response (250 words maximum) here: Describe your Land. The assignment will be due on March 8, 2014.

Start with the basics first: Where is the land located? What kind of land is it: forest, wet- or dryland, pastoral land, etc.? Then discuss the many ways in which your land has value: What is its economic value, cultural value, social value, historic value, etc.? Perhaps you'd like to consider the following: Does your family farm the land? Does your community gather there? Did anything with historical significance take place there? Is the land a habitat for rare animals or plantlife? Here is an example:

The Land: Tempelhofer Field

The Tempelhofer Field (303 hectare) is a former airport in the center of Berlin, Germany's capital city. The airport was opened in 1923, and functioned as a passenger and cargo airport until 2008. Since its closing, the airstrip and vast surrounding area were transformed into a public park. It is currently the site of thriving community garden areas, art exhibitions and installations, and social functions,  While the main building is used for cultural events, the other buildings have been divided into office spaces.

Historical Value: In post-war Germany, the airport was used by the Allied Forces during the Berlin blockade (1948- 1949). The allies supplied the then shut-off population of West-Berlin with food and necessary goods.

Social Value: The vast park is a community hub and social site for the neighboring burrows of Neukoelln, Tempelhof, and Kreuzberg. It is a recreational area for all Berliners. Community gardens have sprung up, giving people the opportunity to grow their own produce.

Endangered Species: The field is an important habitat for several rare (and endangered) species of birds.

Politics and Stakeholder Participation: Such usage of the Tempelhofer Field was made possible by citizen referendums. The openness of Berlin's local government gave public opinion relevance, enabling all stakeholders to take part in the decision-making process. There are talks about developing subsidized/affordable housing on part of the land.

In this first live event, you will meet your tutors. Mark Schauer, from the ELD initiative in Germany, and main expert tutor Dr Emmanuelle Quillérou, from the United Nations University in Canada, will introduce the basic concept of the "Economics of Land Degradation". Take the opportunity to join us for this exciting event!


  • Live: Introduction to the ELD MOOC
  • Experts: Mark Schauer (ELD Initiative), Emmanuelle Quillérou (UNU-INWEH)
  • Host: Tutor Claudia Musekamp
  • Date: Wednesday, March 5, 2014
  • Recording - You will have to enter your e-mail-adress to see the recording
  • Recording on Youtube
  • Resource: 6 Steps + 1 of the ELD methodology

Land has value for each and every one of us. Fertile soil provides us with plantlife, vegetables, and grains. Forests give us timber and firewood. Rivers, lakes, and oceans nourish us with water and marine life.  We benefit from fresh air, fresh water, fresh food, and many other so-called ecosystem services that land provides us with.

In this MOOC, we will be looking at things from various perspectives. We will investigate the society's perspective: What is the value of land, not only for landowners and immediate stakeholders, but also for society as a whole?

We will examine the economist's perspective: What welfare does land provide and how do we valuate and price these gains? We'll have to keep in mind that the costs are often unpaid. Can you imagine if mother nature sent us an invoice?

But before we delve into all that, we'll have a look at land's other value: historical, social and cultural. To many of us, land is emotionally valuable as well. Perhaps we've spent our childhood playing on it, enjoying it, learning from it. We were born on this earth, and have many wonderful memories of it.

Exploring the many values that land holds will ultimately help us focus on its economic value.