Issue no. 6 - Spring 2012




REMINDER - 10 days left
BIOECON 14: Conference call for papers

The Scientific Partners of BIOECON are pleased to announce the Fourteenth Annual International BIOECON conference on “Resource Economics, Biodiversity Conservation and Development”. The conference will be held in the historical premises of Kings College Cambridge, England on 19-20 September 2012. The conference will be of interest to both researchers and policy makers working on biodiversity policy, especially natural resources in developing countries.

The conference takes a broad interest in the area of resources, development and conservation, including but not limited to: plant genetic resources and food security issues, deforestation and development, fisheries and institutional adaptation, development and conservation, wildlife conservation and park pricing, and international trade and regulation. The conference will have sessions on economic development and biodiversity conservation, and on institutions and institutional change pertaining to the management of living resources.

Electronic copies of completed papers should be sent to Dr. Andreas Kontoleon (  no later than 14th May 2012. Please include abstract and keywords with your submission. Acceptance of papers will be notified by email by 1st June 2012

See full text of the call here


Guest article
Uncovering nature and society relationships: Ecosystem service assessment from providers to beneficiaries

By Marina García-Llorente, Berta Martín-López and Carlos Montes
Social-Ecological Systems Laboratory, Dpt. Ecology, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain

This article is a summary of the PhD dissertation presented by Marina García-Llorente and supervised by Berta Martín-López and Carlos Montes in December 2011 at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Spain. The main results of this research have been published in different journals and could be consulted in the reference section.

Keywords: Economic valuation, functional diversity, Mediterranean, protected areas, stakeholders, social-ecological systems.

Over the last several decades, especially since the Convention of Biological Diversity was published in 1992, multiple agreements, principles and plans have been instituted at the international, European and national levels in order to cope with biodiversity loss. Despite efforts to ameliorate this situation, under the context of human domination, biodiversity continues to decline and, consequently, the commitment to reduce biodiversity losses by 2010 has been not achieved (Butchart et al. 2010). During this period (1992-2010), the concept of “ecosystem service” has emerged as a motivation to conserve biodiversity, drawing attention to the influence of ecosystems and biodiversity on human wellbeing. The ecosystem services have been understood as the direct or indirect contributions that humans receive from nature (de Groot 2010; EME 2011). Despite the scientific and political importance of ecosystem services, a better understanding of the links between ecosystems, biodiversity and socio-cultural issues is still required (Carpenter et al. 2009). This research highlights the necessity of identifying and characterising the complex relationships between humans and nature through the assessment of the ecosystem services that are delivered by the providers to the beneficiaries. To achieve this goal, we specifically (1) analysed the role of biodiversity, and particularly the functional diversity, as ecosystem service providers; (2) identified and characterised ecosystem service beneficiaries; (3) identified and characterised the most important ecosystem services for different beneficiaries, taking into account the social conflicts that emerged through the stated preferences techniques; and (4) explored how to uncover the contributions of ecosystems and biodiversity to human wellbeing, providing useful information suitable for decision-making processes, biodiversity conservation and social-ecological systems management, particularly in Mediterranean systems influenced by protected areas.

Methodological approach
The research adopts a multidimensional perspective in which ecosystem service assessment is approached from biophysical (through functional diversity indicators), socio-cultural (through the analysis of social preferences and perceptions towards ecosystem services and landscapes, using indicators such as ranking service demands, as well as identifying different stakeholders who use, value or enjoy ecosystem services), and monetary (through stated preference methods) perspectives. The data compilations presented include literature reviews, field observations, semi-structured interviews of key informants, questionnaires (i.e. four different social samplings conducted in ten campaigns from 2006-2010 and nearly 1500 face-to-face questionnaires using monetary and non-monetary approaches), and expert focus groups. The data analysis consists mainly of median and mean differences tests, multivariate statistical techniques and econometric models.

Study area
The study area covers two social-ecological systems in the Mediterranean Basin, including the two national parks in Andalusia: the Doñana (southwest Spain) and the Sierra Nevada (southeast Spain) protected areas. Considering that the social systems and ecosystems in the Mediterranean have co-evolved for centuries, we conceptualised both study cases as social-ecological systems. The first area, the Doñana social-ecological system, is considered the most important wetland in Spain. From a social point of view, the area is organised into 16 municipalities in the Huelva, Seville and Cadiz provinces. The second area, the Adra-Nacimiento social-ecological system, covers 24 municipalities in the Granada and Almeria provinces. This area ranges from the mountainous massif of the Sierra Nevada (Penibética mountain range) to the Mediterranean Sea, including the only arid zone in Europe.

Main results
We found that the importance of biodiversity was highly recognized by different stakeholder profiles, because its contribution to human wellbeing through the delivery of ecosystem services but also because its non-use values. Biodiversity conservation strategies should not refuse to apply criteria based on the intrinsic value of species and ecosystems instead of applying criteria based exclusively on instrumental values. The translation of biodiversity in terms of ecosystem services does not always require greater social support of biodiversity conservation strategies (see García-Llorente et al. 2011a). These strategies should be designed considering a mixed approach able to incorporate a utilitarian as well as an ethical dimension based on moral motivations for conservation. In addition, functional diversity stand out as the component of biodiversity more strongly related with the delivery of ecosystem services as an indicator of resilient ecosystems (see García-Llorente et al. 2011b).
Regarding the socio-cultural and economic dimensions, we identified and characterized different stakeholder profiles (mainly local residents, environmental and rural development professionals, and tourist population) with remarkably different perceptions about the most important ecosystem services or management strategies (Martín-López et al. 2007a; García-Llorente et al. 2011a,b). Considering the main categories identified, locals were most focused on provisioning services, professionals were focused on regulating services and cultural services (environmental education and scientific knowledge), according to their socio-cultural profiles, and tourists were concerned with cultural services related to recreational activities and aesthetic values. Understanding this diversity of views improves the analysis of social conflicts and the management of social-ecological systems. It is also important to highlight that, regulating services stand out because of their ecological importance, being the basis of other ecosystem service categories, as well as because of their social importance, being highly perceived, valued and demanded by beneficiaries; without the necessity of reflecting on conventional markets.
Finally, following our findings extensive management enhances the provision of a diverse flow of ecosystem services through the promotion of different components of functional diversity and diversity and different social actors. Nevertheless, extensive management is currently the most vulnerable management system due to the rural abandonment and the predominance of a model based on conservation in protected areas and development through intensification outside its limits (see Martín-López et al. 2011). Empowering rural communities in the management of social-ecological systems, with respect to their sense of belonging and the non formal institutions related to their lifestyles, ensures the viability of extensive multifunctional systems (see García-Llorente et al. 2012). 

Concluding remarks
Although the ecosystem services framework aims to uncover the links between ecosystems and human wellbeing, its bias towards tangible aspects could mask the importance of social-ecological processes that are critical for the delivery of ecosystem services such, functional diversity, the experiential knowledge of the local population, or non-formal institutions that manage Mediterranean ecosystems in a traditional way. Extensively managed areas constitute an intermediate step in the landscape matrix, and they are also associated with multifunctionality in which functional diversity gives rise to a diverse flow of ecosystem services. The assessment of ecosystem services from a dominant tangible approach is a serious risk for the maintenance of resilient ecosystems that are able to provide the diverse flow of ecosystem services that are essential for human wellbeing.
From a methodological point of view, stated preference techniques are important tools for ecosystem services assessment, not because they provide monetary estimates to promote the commodification of nature, but because of their capacity to analyse social preferences when prioritising different management strategies or describing the use and enjoyment of ecosystem services, uncovering socio-cultural factors behind those preferences and explore related social conflicts. The economic valuation of ecosystem services is a powerful tool to inform the decision making, but it is just a piece of a complex puzzle to be completed with the biophysical and socio-cultural dimensions (Figure 1). 
The assessment of ecosystem services should focus on the mutual recognition of the importance of ecosystems and biodiversity (functional diversity) for the provision of essential ecosystem services that enhance beneficiaries’ wellbeing. At the same time, the views of diverse beneficiaries with a range of lifestyles must be taken into account (diversity of beneficiaries and institutions) in order to maintain resilient social-ecological systems (Figure 1). The existence of protected areas in the landscape matrix enhances the delivery of regulating and cultural services related to environmental education and scientific knowledge, whereas the designation of Biosphere Reserves promotes the maintenance of traditional cultural and provisioning services (e.g., local ecological knowledge, cultural identity, wild fruits harvesting, or beekeeping) and the participation of the local population in ecosystem management. This model represents a unique opportunity in which experimental and experiential knowledge are combined in order to provide useful information in environmental decision-making process.fig1

Figure 1. Conceptual framework to study social-ecological systems within the context of global change. Modified from Martín-López et al. (2007b).


  • Butchart SHM, Walpole M, Collen B, Van Strien A, Scharlemann JPW, Almond REA, Baillie JEM, Bomhard B, Brown C, Bruno J, Carpenter KE, Carr GM, Chanson J, Chenery AM, Csirke J, Davidson NC, Dentener F, Foster M, Galli A, Galloway JN, Genovesi P, Gregory RD, Hockings M, Kapos V, Lamarque JF, Leverington F, Loh J, McGeoch MA, McRae L, Minasyan A, Hernández Morcillo M, Oldfield TEE, Pauly D, Quader S, Revenga C, Sauer JR, Skolnik B, Spear D, Stanwell-Smith D, Stuart SN, Symes A, Tierney M, Tyrrell TD, Vié JC, Watson R (2010) Global biodiversity: indicators of recent declines. Science 328:1164-1168
  • Carpenter SR, Mooney HA, Agard J, Capistrano D, De Fries RS, Díaz S, Dietz T, Duraiappah AK, Oteng-Yeboah A, Pereira HM, Perrings C, Reid WV, Sarukhan J, Scholes RJ, Whyte A (2009) Science for managing ecosystem services: Beyond the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 106:1305-1312
  • de Groot R, Fisher B, Christie M, Aronson J, Braat L, Gowdy J, Haines-Young R, Maltby E, Neuville A, Polasky S, Portela R, Ring I, Blignaut J, Brondízio E, Costanza R, Jax K, Kadekodi GK, May PH, Mcneely J, Shmelev S (2010) Integrating the ecological and economic dimensions in biodiversity and ecosystem service valuation. In: The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity: Ecological and Economic Foundations, edited by Pushpam Kumar, Chapter 1. London and Washington: Earthscan
  • EME (Evaluación de los Ecosistemas del Milenio de España) (2011) La Evaluación de los ecosistemas del milenio de España. Sintesis de resultados. Fundación Biodiversidad. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Medio Rural y Marino, España
  • García-Llorente M, Martín-López B, Díaz S, Montes C (2011b) Can ecosystem properties be fully translated into service values? An economic valuation of aquatic plant services. Ecological Applications 21:3083-3103
    García-Llorente M, Martín-López B, Iniesta-Arandia I, López-Santiago CA, Montes C (2012) The role of multi-functionality in social preferences toward semi-arid rural landscapes: an ecosystem service approach. Environmental Science & Policy 19-20:136-146
  • García-Llorente M, Martín-López B, Montes C (2011a) Exploring the motivations of protesters in contingent valuation: Insights for conservation policies. Environmental Science & Policy 142:76-88
  • Martín-López B, González JA, Díaz S, Castro I, García-Llorente M (2007b) Biodiversidad y bienestar humano: El papel de la diversidad funcional. Ecosistemas 16:69-80
  • Martín-López B, Montes C, Benayas J (2007a) The non-economic motives behind the willingness to pay for biodiversity conservation. Biological Conservation 139: 67-82

Authors' contact: Marina García-Llorente (




ZEF and IHEID are partners in a research consortium  to carry out a European Commission-funded project within its Seventh Framework Programme. The project title is “Exploring the future of global food and nutrition security”, with acronym FoodSecure. The food system and its resilience are analyzed in relationship to the ecosystem, energy, and financial markets, all of which are potential sources of disruptive shocks (climate change, food price volatility, …). In addition, it is examined in light of fundamental societal trends and changing attitudes towards food consumption and production. Among other things, the ZEF and IHEID teams will work on issues related to the dependency of food and nutrition security on natural resources, biodiversity and land and soil resources in particular.

Visit the project's web page


Leuphana University of Lüneburg launches major new research center on ecosystem services

The research center FuturES ("Futures of Ecosystem Services") brings together the broad and diverse expertise of researchers at Leuphana University Lüneburg and of renowned international experts across a wide range of disciplines such as communication science, ecology, economics, ethics, political science and management. They collaborate on questions in the field of sustainable conservation and use of ecosystem services. This collaboration proceeds between the natural and social sciences (interdisciplinary approach), and actively involves stakeholders and policy makers in shaping research goals and methods (transdisciplinary approach). The research conducted by FuturES focuses on the concept of ecosystem services which is defined as the benefits people obtain from ecosystems. Examples include the production of food, the cleaning of water, the regulation of local and regional climates, or aesthetical and spiritual fulfillment. FuturES expands existing research in this sphere by (1) generalizing the concept to include ecosystem dis-services; (2) relating the analytical concept of ecosystem (dis-)services to the normative concept of sustainability; and (3) including uncertainties in the generation as well as the potential use of ecosystem services. A particular emphasis is on trade-offs and conflicts between multiple services, to develop new management and governance strategies to enhance sustainability. FuturES is the first research center in Germany that takes a truly integrated approach to ecosystem services. This approach places it among a small number of institutions worldwide, including Arizona State University (EcoServices Group, Global Institute of Sustainability), Columbia University (Earth Institute), Stanford University (Woods Institute for the Environment) or the Stockholm Resilience Center.

More info at

Post-Doctoral Researcher in Ecological, Environmental or Resource Economics

The successful candidate will work with Professor Stefan Baumgärtner in work package 8 of the inter- and transdisciplinary project COMTESS (, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. The project studies resilience and sustainable coastal land management along the German coast of the Baltic and North Seas with regard to increasing risks of climate change. It focuses on synergies and trade-offs between different ecosystem services. Work package 8 performs a spatially explicit and dynamic ecological-economic model analysis of different land use scenarios.

Beginning: October 1, 2012 (or at the earliest date thereafter) for the research project COMTESS. The position is full-time, remunerated under state salary scheme EG 13 TV-L, and limited to a maximum term of 2 years and 10 months. Appointment is subject to final approval of funding.

Read the coplete job announcement

dot From UniversitE' catholique de Louvain

Building Institutions for Sustainable Scientific, Cultural and genetic Resources Commons
Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 12-14th September 2012

Organized by BIOGOV unit at Université catholique de Louvain and Institutions for Collective action at Universiteit Utrecht, the 1st Global Thematic IASC Conference on the Knowledge Commons aims to bring together leading people from a number of international scientific research communities, social science researchers, practitioners and policy analysts, to discuss the rationale and practical feasibility of institutional arrangements designed to emulate key public domain conditions for collaborative research.

A variety of initiatives and policies have been proposed that are going beyond “open access”, and aim to facilitate more effective and extensive (global) sharing on local and global pools of not only scientific information and data but also genetic resources and cultural expressions.

Research on the exchange of genetic resources in various fields (microbial, animal and plant) shows that networking collections or of genetic resources in global and local common pool resources is a workable alternative to market-based solutions, which have been shown to be unable to generate sufficient investment in the vast quantities of genetic resources that are neglected because of their low commercial value or potential but as yet unknown future values. For the improving our understanding of the design of these genetic resource commons however, a more systematic approach, based on a systematic analysis of the structure of the exchanges practices, the terms and conditions of exchanges, and the role of non-market values in the actors’ motivations is needed. The main issue that has to be addressed in this context is the creation of a better fit between the design of institutional arrangements for building the genetic resource commons and the norms and practices of the various user communities. Examples which illustrate, amongst others, attempts in that direction are the use of standard material transfer agreements for exchanges within the global crop and microbial commons; breeding associations for animal genetic resources, organizations for informal seed exchange in developing countries or participatory breeding in the organic farming sector.

See the conference website

dot From University of Stirling

The Eco-Delivery project  ( concentrates on the design and analysis of markets and payment schemes for ecosystem services since its onset in 2010. In the month of February 2012, in collaboration with Penn State University, experimental sessions were conducted to investigate the impact of information provision on spatial coordination in an Agglomeration Bonus scheme. Other research projects include: (i) the design and analysis of habitat banking for the conservation of natural habitat, and (ii) the impact of transaction costs on PES scheme participation.

Papers from the project have been selected to be presented at both the AERE conference in the US and the annual EAERE conference in Prague. These papers look at the impact of information provision on spatially coordinated land management, and the implications of trade-offs between biodiversity and carbon benefits on the forestry sector in the UK respectively. The results of this work will also be made public in due time via the Eco-Delivery website.

Further, as part of the project, the University of Stirling is currently organizing an Environment Camp on Environmental Valuation Methods for Ecosystem Services in Stirling between 4-6 September 2012. The Environment Camp features four keynote lectures from renowned environmental economists and 16 contributed papers from PhD students and early career researchers. The application deadline is 31 May 2012. More information about the Environment Camp can be obtained by e-mailing Frans de Vries at, or by visiting


dot From UnEP

UNEP’s GEF funded Project for Ecosystem Services (Proecoserv) will have its first global steering committee meeting from 21-22 May 2012 in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. Following the Steering Committee Meeting, country teams will convene for the International Workshop on Mainstreaming Ecosystem Services into Development Policy: Approaches and Opportunities in Port of Spain from 23-24 May 2012. The goal of this international workshop is to do stocktaking of what is known about ecosystem services - development policy making linkages; to provide an overview of current approaches to the mainstreaming ecosystem services into development planning, to identify the  limitations, on the effective use of these approaches; to discuss the possible  tools which  can be used in developing countries (enabling factors); and to identify knowledge gaps and direction of  future work.

Information on project activities is found on project web site:

For more information contact:

dot From University of VIGO

EU Project MYFISH- Maximising Yield of Fisheries While Balancing Ecosystem, Economic and Social Concerns
Kick-off meeting at the University of Vigo (23-27 April 2012)

The MSY concept was included as a principle in the 2009 Green Paper on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in accordance with the global imperative to manage fish stocks according to the maximum sustainable yield (MSY). This implies a commitment to direct management of fish stocks towards achieving MSY by 2015. Attaining this goal is complicated by the lack of common agreement on the interpretation of “sustainability” and “yield” and by the effects that achieving MSY for one stock may have on other stocks and broader ecosystem, economic, or social aspects. MYFISH will provide definitions of MSY variants which maximize other measures of “yield” than biomass and which account for the fact that single species rarely exist in isolation. MYFISH aims at integrating the MSY concept with the overarching principals of the CFP: the precautionary and the ecosystem approach. MYFISH will achieve this objective through addressing fisheries in all RAC areas and integrating stakeholders (the fishing industry, NGOs and managers) throughout the project. Existing ecosystem and fisheries models will be modified to perform maximization of stakeholder approved yield measures while ensuring acceptable impact levels on ecosystem, economic and social aspects. Implementation plans are proposed and social aspects addressed through active involvement of stakeholders. Finally, effects of changes in environment, economy and society on MSY variants are considered, aiming at procedures rendering the MSY approach robust to such changes. 


Published Paper
Emergence of cooperative behaviours in the management of mobile ecological resources
Julia Touza, Martin Drechsler, James C.R. Smart and Mette Termansen, Environmental Modelling & Software. In press.

Cooperation at neighbourhood and landscape scale is frequently advocated as a means of improving the management of ecological resources. Such management often involves multiple agents and takes place in spatially structured landscapes where interactions between management actions are mediated via spatio-temporal dynamics of the managed resource. Evolutionary game theory has sought mechanisms to explain the emergence of cooperation among selfish individuals in these complex socio-ecological contexts, and spatial implementations of standard games have shown that the development and persistence of cooperation is affected by spatial structure. However, existing game theoretic models do not incorporate the dynamics of the managed resource or cross-linkages between resource dynamics and management actions and payoffs. We use a spatial agent-based modelling approach to investigate how ecological dynamics, payoff structures, and their interdependencies, influence the emergence and persistence of cooperative behaviours in the management of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in Scotland.

dot From FEEM

Working Paper
Intellectual Property and Biodiversity: When and Where are Property Rights Important?

by Mare Sarr and Tim Swanson

An important issue in the life sciences industries concerns the nature of the incentive mechanism that should govern the production of innovation within this R&D sector. We look at the specific problem of coordinating the supply of inputs across very different agents - North and South - that must each supply inputs in order to generate innovations from the industry. The current arrangement in this industry provides for a single property right at "end of the pipeline", i.e. where marketing of the innovation occurs. This property rights scenario raises two problems, one of efficiency and one of equity. The key question asked here pertains to the number and placement of property rights that should be instituted to address this property rights failure. Should one establish new property rights in traditional knowledge alone; property rights in genetic information alone; or in both? We demonstrate that in a world in which traditional knowledge and genetic information are complements in the production of R&D, a resolution of the property rights failure in genetic information also may resolve the allocation failure in traditional knowledge even in the absence of a distinct property right. The reason is that traditional knowledge of the nature of private information is comparable to a trade secret. Traditional knowledge holders may use this informational advantage to improve their benefit by capturing some informational rent. A new property right is important to enable bargaining and coordination to occur across the industry, but a single property right is probably sufficient to enable coordination between the two agents.

Download the full paper

dot From Norwegian University of Science and Technology

New paper
An Ecological-Economic Model on the Effects of Interactions between Escaped Farmed and Wild Salmon (Salmo salar)
Yajie Liu, Ola H. Diserud, Kjetil Hindar, Anders Skonhoft - Fish and Fisheries, Feb. 2012

This paper explores the ecological and economic impacts of interactions between escaped farmed and wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar, Salmonidae) over generations. An age- and stage-structured bioeconomic model is developed. The biological part of the model includes age-specific life history traits such as survival rates, fecundity, and spawning successes for wild and escaped farmed salmon, as well as their hybrids, while the economic part takes account of use and non-use values of fish stock. The model is simulated under three scenarios using data from the Atlantic salmon fishery and salmon farming in Norway. The social welfare is derived from harvest and wild salmon while the economic benefits of fishing comprise both sea and river fisheries. The results reveal that the wild salmon stock is gradually replaced by salmon with farmed origin, while the total social welfare and economic benefit decline, although not at the same rate as the wild salmon stock.

View the article


About the BIOECON Newsletter

The BIOECON Newsletter is prepared with the contribution of all the BIOECON Partner Institutions. Please send comments and questions to:
The BIOECON Newsletter is a six-month publication. Next issue: Autumn 2012

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