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Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services Provided by Oyster Reefs

Jonathan H. Grabowski, Robert D. Brumbaugh, Robert F. Conrad, Andrew G. Keeler, James J. Opaluch, Charles H. Peterson, Michael F. Piehler, Sean P. Powers and Ashley R. Smyth
BioScience
Vol. 62, No. 10 (October 2012), pp. 900-909
DOI: 10.1525/bio.2012.62.10.10
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/bio.2012.62.10.10
Page Count: 10
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Economic Valuation of Ecosystem Services Provided by Oyster Reefs
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Abstract

Valuation of ecosystem services can provide evidence of the importance of sustaining and enhancing those resources and the ecosystems that provide them. Long appreciated only as a commercial source of oysters, oyster reefs are now acknowledged for the other services they provide, such as enhancing water quality and stabilizing shorelines. We develop a framework to assess the value of these services. We conservatively estimate that the economic value of oyster reef services, excluding oyster harvesting, is between $5500 and $99,000 per hectare per year and that reefs recover their median restoration costs in 2–14 years. In contrast, when oyster reefs are subjected to destructive oyster harvesting, they do not recover the costs of restoration. Shoreline stabilization is the most valuable potential service, although this value varies greatly by reef location. Quantifying the economic values of ecosystem services provides guidance about when oyster reef restoration is a good use of funds.

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