Tag Archives: Land degradation

This week's case-study:

Case Study 4 and 7: Sierra Leone / World Crop


Further Reading

Simple cost-benefit analysis:
De Groot, R.S., J. Blignaut, S. Van Der Ploeg, J. Aronson, T. Elmqvist, and J. Farley. 2013. "Benefits of Investing in Ecosystem Restoration." Conservation Biology 27:1286-1293.

A bit more advanced:
Birol, E., P. Koundouri and Y. Kountouris (2010). "Assessing the economic viability of alternative water resources in water-scarce regions: Combining economic valuation, cost-benefit analysis and discounting." Ecological Economics 69(4): 839-847.

Next week we will simulate a cost-benefit-analysis for your chosen ecosystem. This economic method is a decision-making tool that will enable you to make a comparison between two scenarios:

1. the scenario that you explored in Assignment 2

2. a new scenario that you will create

The assignment is due on April 12, 2014.

  • Pls read Chapter 3 UNU-INWEH on Cost-Benefit-Analysis.
  • The choice: describe an alternative scenario for your existing case study. Develop a new scenario for the ecosystem described in Assignment 2. The scenario could be a variety of measures: e.g. adapting new land use practice, changing agricultural methods, using the land for a business / factory, excluding the land from use, turning it into a preserved national park, etc. The goal is to prevent (or reverse) land degradation, while improving the livelihood of (poorer) stakeholders.
  • Describe your scenario (approx. 500 words): What measurements are to be taken? Whose livelihood will you improve? What is the time span of your project? Are you going to include transfer payments (tax, subsidies, etc...)? Write a list of factors and items (goods/services) that represent costs and benefits for the two scenarios.
  • The Week_5 Practitioner's Guide_Form will help you to structure the discussion.
  • Note: Think boldly! In this assignment, you should pretend that you have all of the authority, the means, and the competence to better your ecosystem.
  • ...and: Your scenario can not be comprised of the entire land area. You must select and use only a section of the area.
  • Please use the etherpad that you used in Assignment 2. Place Assignment 4 above Assignment 3.


Over the next few weeks, we will develop a cost-benefit-analysis for your ecosystem. Cost-benefit analysis is a tool that helps decision makers assess whether or not a project is worth undertaking. The first step is assessing of the current situation, the costs and the benefits. We have begun doing that in the previous assignments. Now, we need to conceptualize a scenario that is different from what we have already worked on. The ELD goal is to prevent or reverse land degradation while improving the livelihood of people. Our new land scenario should reflect those goals. 

Copyright: GIZ, Photo: Martin Egbert

Valuation methods provide us with more information on values and costs, thereby enabling us to make decisions. The range and impact of those choices may vary: should a piece of land be turned into a National Park? Should the private sector be allowed to use build a factory on it? Will a paradigm shift in agricultural methods help to inhibit land degradation? How can the livelihood of the people who live off of the fruits of land be improved? In order to make these choices, we have to come up with specific scenarios: land use patterns, stakeholders, costs and benefits. 

A Scenario for a cost-benefit-analysis »
Assignment 4 »
Resources Cost-Benefit-Analysis »
Live-event: How to do a cost-benefit-analysis »

Economics provides us with the methods we need to value ecosystem services. They have varied  approaches: some measure using replacement or repair costs while others refer to personal preference (what people both say and demonstrate). Benefit Transfer draws from other cases to make a comparison. This week we will be exploring evaluation methods and their effectiveness. We will apply them to the cases we are working on.

The Toolkit: Valuation Methods »
Assignment 3 »
Live-Event: How to Value Ecosystem Services »
Resources Valuation Methods »

This week's case-study:

Case Study 6 Honduras



Further Reading

List of online repositories and resources:

Production losses:
Bishop, J. and Allen, J., 1989. The on-site cost of soil erosion in Mali. Environment Working Paper No. 21. The World Bank, Washington D.C. http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/1989/11/01/000009265_3960928152005/Rendered/PDF/multi_page.pdf

Alfsen, K.H., De Franco, M.A., Glomsrød, S. and Johnsen, T., 1996. The cost of soil erosion in Nicaragua. Ecological Economics. 16(2): 129-145.      http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0921800995000836

Hedonic pricing:
King, D.A. and Sinden, J.A., 1988. Influence of soil conservation on farm land values. Land Economics. 64(3): 242-255. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3146248

Travel cost method:
Navrud, S. and Mungatana, E.D. Environmental valuation in developing countries: The recreational value of wildlife viewing. Ecological Economics. 11: 135-151      . http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0921800994900248

Contingent Valuation method:
Ngugi, G.W., Newton, L.E. and Muasya, A.M., 2011. The contribution of forest products to dryland household economy: The case of Kiang’ombe hill forest, Kenya. Ethnobotany Research and Applications. 9: 163-180. http://lib-ojs3.lib.sfu.ca:8114/index.php/era/article/view/197/320

Choice experiment:

Do, T.N., 2007. Impacts of dykes on wetland values in Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta: A case study in the Plain of Reeds (PhD Thesis). Economy and Environment Program for Southeast Asia, Singapore.      http://web.idrc.ca/uploads/user-S/12114357241ThangNamDoRR.pdf

Blamey, J., Rolfe, J., Bennett, J. and Morrison M. 2000. Valuing remnant vegetation in Central Queensland using choice modelling. The Australian Journal of Agriculture and Resource Economics. 44(3): 439-456.

Benefit transfer:
ELD Initiative http://eld-initiative.org/
UK National Ecosystem Assessment http://uknea.unep-wcmc.org/,
TEEB http://www.teebweb.org
EVRI https://www.evri.ca/
EnValue http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/envalueapp/

List of online repositories and resources :

Toolkits for valuation and assessment:

ARIES http://www.ariesonline.org
SESAME http://www.pdx.edu/ecosystem-services/
Earth Economics http://www.esvaluation.org
InVest http://www.naturalcapitalproject.org/
GLUES http://www.ufz.de/index.php?en=20766; http://geoportal.glues.geo.tu-dresden.de/
INFFER http://www.inffer.com.au/
MIMES http://www.ebmtools.org/mimes.html; http://www.afordablefutures.com/services/mimes
IVM Institute for Environmental Studies http://www.ivm.vu.nl/en/Organisation/departments/spatial-analysis-decision-support/research-themes/Mapping-and-modelling-ecosystem-services/index.asp
PBL group http://www.pbl.nl/en/dossiers/modelsanddata


The economics of land degradation provides you with a set of tools that enable you to value ecosystem services. Hannes Etter, Scientific expert of the ELD initiative, will talk about three preselected evaluation methods. He will elaborate on three case studies in which non-demand-curve approaches,  travel cost, and benefit transfer methods have been used.

Speaker: Hannes Etter, ELD Initiative
Host: Claudia Musekamp, Online Tutor
Date: March 26, 2014
Slides from the Presentation: The Economists Toolbox2

Hannes Etter is responsible for the scientific coordination within the ELD-network, including a broad range of case studies and partners from different institutions. Previous to his life in the ELD-Initiative, Hannes supported the Institute for Environmental and Human Security of the United Nations University, focusing on food security and rural development in West Africa in the WASCAL project.

Hannes Etter holds a Diploma in Geography. Throughout his studies he worked in southern Africa and southeast Asia, with a strong focus on rural development and community land use management and planning.

In Assignment 2 you identified non-marketed ecosystem services. In Assignment 3 you will select a valuation method appropriate to the case chosen. The assignment is due on March 29, 2014.

  • Pls read Chapter 2 UNU-INWEH. Since it is a fairly long chapter, you may want to split up the work and have each team member study one particular method.
  • Choose one suitable method for your case.
  • Write a brief summary about which method you've selected and why. Include the advantages and disadvantages (or obstacles to overcome) to applying it. It is unnecessary to carry out the method, simply report on it.
  • Please use the etherpad that you used in Assignment 2. Place Assignment 3 above Assignment 2.

Total economic value is one of the most common frameworks for environmental valuation. This framework is anthropocentric because it is based on how society values these goods and services. This perspective is based on the use of utility as a measure of preference.
In this course, we are looking at various methods used for calculating the total economic values. There are three types of valuation methods:

  1. Non demand-based methods
  2. Demand-based revealed preference methods
  3. Demand-based stated preference methods.