Environmental and Resource Economics

, Volume 64, Issue 1, pp 37–58 | Cite as

The Protective Value of Estuarine and Coastal Ecosystem Services in a Wealth Accounting Framework

  • Edward B. Barbier


Recent concern over the loss of estuarine and coastal ecosystems (ECEs) often focuses on an important service provided by these ecosystems, their role in protecting coastal communities from storms that damage property and cause deaths and injury. Certain ECEs, especially mangroves, marshes, seagrasses and near-shore coral reefs, may significantly reduce storm surges through attenuating waves. This function is key to the protective value of ECEs, which is used as a basis for coastal restoration efforts worldwide. In a wealth accounting framework, net domestic product (NDP) should be adjusted for the direct benefits provided by the current stock of this restored ecological capital but not for their indirect contributions in terms of protecting or supporting economic activity, property and human livelihoods. If ecosystem restoration leads to the creation of new ecological landscape, including transforming developed land back to ecological capital, then NDP must be further modified to reflect any capital revaluation that occurs. Both the current benefits of restoration and any capitalized land values must be adjusted if there is a risk of restoration failure. These issues encountered in a wealth accounting approach to the protective value of ECEs is illustrated with reference to the case of marsh creation in Louisiana, USA, in light of the 2012 Louisiana Coastal Master Plan.


Estuarine and coastal ecosystems Marsh Mangroves  Storm protection service Economic valuation Wave attenuation 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Economics and FinanceUniversity of WyomingLaramieUSA

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