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Selecting ecological indicators to compare maintenance costs related to the compensation of damaged ecosystem services

Ecological Indicators
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolind.2013.01.003
  • Ecosystem Services
  • Maintenance Costs
  • Compensatory Measures
  • Hea
  • Mea
  • No Net Loss
  • Biology
  • Ecology
  • Geography
  • Law


The aim of this paper is to compare different maintenance costs of ecosystem service arising from a hypothetical case of environmental damage in order to help to understand how the different ecosystem services are considered in decision making processes. Compensatory measures are aimed precisely at maintaining the level of supply of ecosystem services. According to the literature, compensatory measures like restoration are usually applied to specific ecosystem services. We used the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MEA) categories of ecosystem service. For each MEA category, several ecological indicators are selected, and the cost of the compensatory measures required to fulfill the goal of no net loss is assessed using the Habitat Equivalency Analysis (HEA). The results of this analysis highlight differences between compensatory measures and their associated costs depending on the category of ecosystem services targeted. Maintenance costs are high for regulating services, low for provisioning services, and more difficult to determine for cultural services (high or low depending on the indicator selected). We discuss the implications of this result, noting that it is more rational for project developers to focus their attention on provisioning services if the legal regulation of compensation is lax or if indicators relative to cultural and regulating services are not precise enough.

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