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Monetization of ecosystem services

Biodiversity is a requirement for human societies and their welfare: the diversity of genetic information, of species and ecosystems provides food, commodities, regulates energy flows and material cycles, and is an important element of cultural identity. Especially in cultural landscapes effects of human activities are evident. As a consequence of industrial agriculture, forestry and urbanization biodiversity development in cultural landscapes shows a negative tendency. The loss of species and their habitats is faster than any attempt to create new wildlife habitats. The necessity to stop this trend has been recognized and formulated as political aim. Without doubt, any decision concerning the environment, in environmental politics respectively includes an implicit valuation of environmental goods and trade-offs regarding advantages and disadvantages of activities that should be supported or prohibited. This fact leads to the question which criteria and measures should be and are currently directive in such decisions. At this point, economic valuation can serve as scientific argumentation system and provide a valuable tool for rationalization of decision processes. It does not only show the scarcity of this public good but also the societal damage of biodiversity loss and creates thus a basis for the development of economic incentives to protect biodiversity. The reality shows that this approach is superior to the common ‘command and control’ procedure.