UBC Graduate Research

Integrated Valuation of Biodiversity Pelletier, Flavie; Melanidis, Marina; Yang, Keyon; Gibeau, Patrick


This project was mandated by SEEDS UBC, and was to be completed as part of our final project for RES 510 (Socio-ecological systems). As the University of British Columbia is growing, it wants to expand and revive its infrastructure. In the past, this might have been done at the expense of other non-economic capital that still holds value for many of the stakeholders present on the campus. Currently, UBC Vancouver does not have a framework to support decisions that can integrate the ecological, social, and cultural values of the biodiversity (and resulting ecosystem services) present on campus. With this project, we aimed to review different biodiversity valuation frameworks to reflect on how they can be applied in the UBC context and to propose a toolbox as a starting point for decision-makers. Ultimately, we hope that our work can contribute to lay the foundation of a future biodiversity policy at UBC. The first sections of the report focus on working definitions and the problem context, followed by an in-depth literature review. For the literature review, we approached the problem of valuation of biodiversity from four different perspectives: (1) landscape ecosystem relations, preferences and implications, (2) cultural and social dimensions of biodiversity, (3) urban system's role in biodiversity and ecosystem services, and (4) economic valuation of biodiversity. For each section in the literature review, we present case studies that can illustrate how the frameworks can be used to assess the ecological, social and cultural values of natural assets. Then, we present how the valuation of biodiversity fits within the UBC branding. We also discuss and review the different plans and policies that already exist at UBC and how a framework for biodiversity valuation could fit within those or add value. Finally, we make recommendations to apply the different frameworks in the UBC context. Regarding our recommendations, for the valuation of social and cultural biodiversity at UBC, we suggest a mixed-method approach by using surveys or questionnaires to gather information from a large number of community members and focus groups to collect more nuanced data. Additionally, we also recommend that the role of biodiversity in the ecosystem structure be made central to bring multi-stakeholders to common decisions. Moreover, to put a monetary value on biodiversity and to understand opportunity cost, we propose the completion of a large scale discrete choice experiment survey that would reveal the UBC community's willingness to pay for biodiversity. Disclaimer: “UBC SEEDS provides students with the opportunity to share the findings of their studies, as well as their opinions, conclusions and recommendations with the UBC community. The reader should bear in mind that this is a student project/report and is not an official document of UBC. Furthermore readers should bear in mind that these reports may not reflect the current status of activities at UBC. We urge you to contact the research persons mentioned in a report or the SEEDS Coordinator about the current status of the subject matter of a project/report.”

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