, Volume 44, Issue 4, pp 308–318 | Cite as

A framework for the social valuation of ecosystem services

  • María R. Felipe-Lucia
  • Francisco A. Comín
  • Javier Escalera-Reyes


Methods to assess ecosystem services using ecological or economic approaches are considerably better defined than methods for the social approach. To identify why the social approach remains unclear, we reviewed current trends in the literature. We found two main reasons: (i) the cultural ecosystem services are usually used to represent the whole social approach, and (ii) the economic valuation based on social preferences is typically included in the social approach. Next, we proposed a framework for the social valuation of ecosystem services that provides alternatives to economics methods, enables comparison across studies, and supports decision-making in land planning and management. The framework includes the agreements emerged from the review, such as considering spatial–temporal flows, including stakeholders from all social ranges, and using two complementary methods to value ecosystem services. Finally, we provided practical recommendations learned from the application of the proposed framework in a case study.


Social evaluation Stakeholder Ecosystem services flow Ecosystem services ranking Social perception 



We acknowledge all participants in the interviews as well as others who provided meaningful information to understand the socio-ecological system of the River Piedra basin. We thank M. Gartzia, A. de Frutos, and an anonymous reviewer for valuable comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. MFL was awarded a grant by the CSIC (Spanish National Research Council) under the JAE‐predoc program (JAE-Pre-2010-044), co-financed by the European Social Fund.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (PDF 109 kb)


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Copyright information

© Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • María R. Felipe-Lucia
    • 1
  • Francisco A. Comín
    • 2
  • Javier Escalera-Reyes
    • 3
  1. 1.Instituto Pirenaico de Ecología-CSICJacaSpain
  2. 2.Instituto Pirenaico Ecología-CSICSaragossaSpain
  3. 3.Universidad Pablo de OlavideSevilleSpain

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