Unexpected Management Choices When Accounting for Uncertainty in Ecosystem Service Tradeoff Analyses

Cabral, Reniel B., Halpern, Benjamin S., Costello, Christopher, and Gaines, Steven D. (2017) Unexpected Management Choices When Accounting for Uncertainty in Ecosystem Service Tradeoff Analyses. Conservation Letters, 10 (4). pp. 422-430.

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Resource management and conservation increasingly focus on ecosystem service provisioning and potential tradeoffs among services under different management actions. Application of bioeconomic approaches to tradeoffs assessment is touted as a way to find win-win outcomes or avoid unnecessary stakeholder conflict. Yet, nearly all assessments to date have ignored inherent uncertainties in the provision and valuation of services. We incorporate uncertainty into the ecosystem services analytical framework and show how such inclusion improves optimal decision making. In particular, we show: (1) “suboptimal” solutions can become optimal when uncertainties are accounted for; (2) uncertainty paradoxically makes stakeholders value conservation despite their lack of preference for it; and (3) substantial losses or missed gains in ecosystem service provisioning can be incurred when uncertainty is ignored. Our results highlight the urgency of accounting for uncertainties in ecosystem services in tradeoff assessments given the widespread use of this approach by government agencies and conservation organizations.

Item ID: 72413
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1755-263X
Keywords: Bioeconomic model; decision making; ecosystem-based management; ecosystem services; multisector planning; second best theory; spatial planning; tradeoff analysis; uncertainty
Copyright Information: Copyright and Photocopying: © 2016 The Authors. Conservation Letters published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Date Deposited: 13 Jul 2022 23:46
FoR Codes: 41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 100%
SEO Codes: 18 ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT > 1899 Other environmental management > 189999 Other environmental management not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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