Valuing ecosystem services and ecosystem assets for The Netherlands

Schenau, Sjoerd; Berkel, Jocelyn van; Bogaart, Patrick; Blom, Chantal; Driessen, Corine; Jongh, Linda de; Jong, Rixt de; Horlings, Edwin; Mosterd, Redbad; Hein, Lars; Lof, Marjolein


Ecosystems contribute to economic activities and provide economic value. There is an increasing interest in measuring these monetary values. This helps making comparisons with other macro-economic variables, such as GDP and the stock of non-financial assets. The System of Environmental Economic Accounting – Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA EA), adopted by the UN Statistical Commission in March 2021, provides internationally recognised statistical principles and recommendations for the valuation of ecosystem services and assets in a context that is consistent with the concepts of the System of National Accounts. Although these guidelines provide a sound statistical basis, there is still a lack of practical experience in applying these principles and recommendations in ecosystem accounts. Statistics Netherlands and Wageningen University & Research have been implementing the guidelines of SEEA EA since 2014. Ecosystem accounts for The Netherlands, including the monetary supply and use tables for ecosystem services and the ecosystem asset account, are now being compiled on a regular basis. This paper provides an overview of the valuation techniques applied for the different ecosystem services and the practical issues that were encountered. We found that it is important to distinguish between techniques that provide exchange values that are already incorporated in GDP and exchange values that are not. In addition, we found that, from a conceptual and practical point of view, the best valuation techniques depend upon the type of service, as follows: • Provisioning services: Rent-based methods (e.g. stumpage prices, rent prices for agricultural land) • Regulating services: Replacement costs or avoided damage costs methods • Cultural services: consumer expenditure and hedonic pricing The monetary values for the asset account depend upon the valuation of individual ecosystem services, as well as a number of assumptions including the choice of the most appropriate discount rate.