, Volume 4, Issue 1, pp 55-74

Primary and secondary values of wetland ecosystems

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Wetlands are continuously degraded in many parts of the world. One reason is the lack of the appropriate valuation of the multifunctionality of wetland. In an attempt to improve the understanding of the importance of this feature of wetlands an alternative classification of values is suggested; primary and secondary values. Primary value refers to the development and maintenance of ecosystems — their self-organizing capacity. Secondary values are defined as the outputs, life-support functions and services, generated by wetlands. Methods for measuring these values are discussed. Three case studies are presented which use different valuation methods and which to different degrees capture the primary and secondary values. It is concluded that only part of the total wetland value can be captured in monetary terms.