Economic Analysis for Ecosystem-based Management – 2010

Author: D Holland, J Sanchirico, R Johnston & D Joglekar
Publisher: RFF Press, Washington - PBK
ISBN: 978-1-933115-74-0

This book is one of the most reader friendly economics texts referring to economics and ecosystem management that I have read. Having said that, a basic understanding of economics theory is vital in enabling the reader to extract what he or she needs from this book.

The subtitle of the book is, “Applications to Marine and Coastal Environments”, and the content has a distinct marine flavour. It therefore has more relevance to those working with marine and coastal ecosystem management and I would not recommend that those wanting to focus upon terrestrial ecosystem economic analysis, use this book unless they have a sufficient sound environmental economic theory background to draw out the broader lessons of the book.

The chapter on human behaviour explains clearly key economic concepts and goes beyond the traditional supply and demand approach. I found the diagrammatic use of decision structures and end point linkages a very useful tool in helping to explain fundamental principles which are not always as clear to lay folk as they are to economists.

I also found the chapter on non-market values most enlightening and the table summarising non-market valuation techniques and examples (including comments on practical uses and exclusions) captured the essence of the varying techniques available.

What really made this book valuable for me were the four case studies at the back of the book. The theory is a necessary evil but it is only when this is applied to a practical case study that the proverbial pennies begin to drop. All four studies are marine focussed but I found the one discussing offshore wind farms, the most useful and understandable.

With the four authors being split between two scientists and two economists, this book has probably achieved the best of both worlds – a balance between economic theory and scientific reality.

A good book for those with a good understanding of environmental economics theory and a need to use economic analysis in marine coastal management. Otherwise, not recommended.