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The value of the world's ecosystem services and natural capital

Nature volume 387, pages 253260 (15 May 1997) | Download Citation



The services of ecological systems and the natural capital stocks that produce them are critical to the functioning of the Earth's life-support system. They contribute to human welfare, both directly and indirectly, and therefore represent part of the total economic value of the planet. We have estimated the current economic value of 17 ecosystem services for 16 biomes, based on published studies and a few original calculations. For the entire biosphere, the value (most of which is outside the market) is estimated to be in the range of US$16-54 trillion (1012) per year, with an average of US$33 trillion per year. Because of the nature of the uncertainties, this must be considered a minimum estimate. Global gross national product total is around US$18 trillion per year.

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  1. Center for Environmental and Estuarine Studies, Zoology Department, University of Maryland, Box 38, Solomons, Maryland 20688, USA

    • Robert Costanza
  2. Insitute for Ecological Economics, University of Maryland, Box 38, Solomons, Maryland 20688, USA

    • Robert Costanza
    •  & Monica Grasso
  3. Economics Department (emeritus), University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82070, USA

    • Ralph d'Arge
  4. Center for Environment and Climate Studies, Wageningen Agricultural University, PO Box 9101, 6700 HB Wageninengen, The Netherlands

    • Rudolf de Groot
  5. Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260, USA

    • Stephen Farber
  6. Geography Department and NCSA, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA

    • Bruce Hannon
  7. Institute of Ecosystem Studies, Millbrook, New York, USA

    • Karin Limburg
  8. Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St Paul, Minnesota 55108, USA

    • Shahid Naeem
  9. Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Tennessee 37831, USA

    • Robert V. O'Neill
  10. Department of Ecology, Faculty of Agronomy, University of Buenos Aires, Av. San Martin 4453, 1417 Buenos Aires, Argentina

    • Jose Paruelo
  11. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California 91109, USA

    • Robert G. Raskin
  12. National Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, Department of Geography, University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California 93106, USA

    • Paul Sutton
  13. Ecological Economics Research and Applications Inc., PO Box 1589, Solomons, Maryland 20688, USA

    • Marjan van den Belt
  14. Present address: Department of Systems Ecology, University of Stockholm, S-106 91 Stockholm, Sweden.

    • Karin Limburg


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