The Circle 02.15

Published 23 April 2015

Valuing Arctic ecosystems and biodiversity

For thousands of years Indigenous peoples of the Arctic have subsisted on its natural resources - fish, grazing grounds for reindeer herding, fresh water from the great Siberian rivers flowing into the Arctic. The far north represents tremendous wealth in its unique biodiversity, culture and, increasingly, in commercial ventures including tourism and shipping.

This issue of The Circle investigates the what, why and how of valuing Arctic ecosystems and biodiversity. Why are we allowing some Arctic ecosystems to be degraded? Is the real value of ecosystems incorporated into economic policies and investment decisions by companies? What ecosystem services are generally missing from policy evaluations and business calculations due to their economic invisibility? Can valuation of ecosystem services be a tool to make the invisible use of nature visible and as such, redirect the economic compass of the Arctic and beyond? What are prerequisites to be met for estimating this true value? What is an appropriate scope and boundary for valuation in the Arctic? Is it wrong to put a dollar value on some of Arctic´s ecosystem services, such as the cultural value that Indigenous peoples place on nature? How can we incorporate cultural and even spiritual values in the decision-making process? Join the debate in this edition of The Circle.

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