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Soil Science Society of America Journal Abstract - Soil Science Issues

On the Value of Soil Resources in the Context of Natural Capital and Ecosystem Service Delivery


This article in SSSAJ

  1. Vol. 78 No. 3, p. 685-700
    Received: Jan 14, 2014
    Published: June 10, 2014

    * Corresponding author(s): drearthscience@yahoo.com
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  1. D. A. Robinson *a,
  2. I. Fraserb,
  3. E. J. Dominatic,
  4. B. Davíðsdóttird,
  5. J. O. G. Jónssond,
  6. L. Jonese,
  7. S. B. Jonesf,
  8. M. Tullerg,
  9. I. Lebronh,
  10. K. L. Bristowi,
  11. D. M. Souzaj,
  12. S. Banwartk and
  13. B. E. Clothierl
  1. a NERC–Centre for Ecology and Hydrology ECW Deiniol Rd.Bangor, UK
    b Univ. of Kent School of Economics Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ and La Trobe Univ. School of Economics Melbourne, Victoria 3086 Australia
    c AgResearch Grasslands Research Centre Tennent Dr. Private Bag 11008 Palmerston North 4442 New Zealand
    d School of Engineering and Natural Sci. Environment and Natural Resources Univ. of Iceland VRII, Hjardarhagi 2-6, 107 Reykjavık, Iceland
    e NERC–Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, ECW Deiniol Rd. Bangor, UK
    f Dep. Of Plants Soils and Climate Utah State Univ. Logan, UT 84322, USA
    g Dep. of Soil, Water and Environ. Sci. Univ. of Arizona Tucson, AZ 85721, USA
    h NERC–Centre for Ecology and Hydrology ECW Deiniol Rd. Bangor, UK
    i CSIRO Sustainable Agriculture National Research Flagship and CSIRO Land and Water PMB Aitkenvale Townsville, QLD 4814 Australia
    j European Commission Joint Research Centre Institute for Environment and Sustainability Via E. Fermi 2749 21027 Ispra, VA Italy
    k Kroto Research Institute Univ. of Sheffield North Campus Broad Ln. Sheffield S3 7HQ UK
    l Plant and Food Research Climate Lab. PO Box 11-600 Palmerston North 4442 New Zealand


The ecosystem services approach endeavors to incorporate the economic value of ecosystems into decision making. This is because many natural resources are subject to market failure. As a result, many economic decisions omit the impact that natural resource use has on the earth’s resources and the life support system it provides. Hence, one of the objectives of the ecosystem services approach is to employ economic valuation of natural resources in micro- and macroeconomic policy design, implementation, and evaluation. In this article we examine valuation concepts, and ask why we might attempt to economically value the contribution of soils to the provision of ecosystem services. We go on to examine economic valuation methods and review economic valuation of soils. By surveying prices of soils on the web we are able to make a first, limited global assessment of direct market value of topsoil prices. We then consider other research efforts to value soil. Finally, we consider how the valuation of soil can meaningfully be used in the introduction of improved resource management mechanisms such as decision support tools on which valuation can be based, within the UN’s System of Environmental and Economic Accounts (SEEA) and policy mechanisms like Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES).

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Copyright © 2014. Copyright © by the Soil Science Society of America, Inc.