The gap between science and policy: Assessing the use of nonmarket valuation in estuarine management based on a case study of US federally managed estuaries

The gap between science and policy: Assessing the use of nonmarket valuation in estuarine management based on a case study of US federally managed estuaries

Ocean & Coastal Management xxx (2014) 1e7 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Ocean & Coastal Management journal homepage:

277KB Sizes 1 Downloads 5 Views

Ocean & Coastal Management xxx (2014) 1e7

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Ocean & Coastal Management journal homepage:

The gap between science and policy: Assessing the use of nonmarket valuation in estuarine management based on a case study of US federally managed estuaries Jing Guo a, b, *, Judith Kildow b a b

Ocean University of China, 238 Songling Road, Qingdao, Shandong 266100, China Center for the Blue Economy, Monterey Institute of International Studies, 472 Pierce St, Monterey, CA 93940, USA

a r t i c l e i n f o

a b s t r a c t

Article history: Available online xxx

Estuaries are among the most productive natural systems on earth, providing an array of human welfare benefits, if well managed. Non-market valuation (NMV) can be a powerful tool that can inform policies for better estuarine management. More than 30 years of research valuing estuaries around the world does not appear to have had a major impact on estuarine management if one uses the literature as evidence. Published examples of policy applications using estimates from these studies, are rare, leading to the question whether the effort and money spent on this research has been useful and worth the cost. In addition to raising public awareness of the importance of estuaries, NMV should play a wider and more influential role in estuarine management. Our research went beyond the literature to the sources, and attempted to find out if there were a gap between economic studies and their use in policy decisions by surveying the managers of US federally managed estuaries. We identified the gap, addressed the size of the gap, and sought to elicit some possible reasons for it. Our research also identified some of the underlying causes why these values are not used more in the decision making process, at least in the case of US-managed estuaries. In this paper, we review current literature, and report on a survey of key personnel from two US agencies–the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), that oversee estuaries and sanctuaries, and we summarize their observations regarding why they do or don't use NMV studies. On the basis of this, some problems with NMV studies that hinder their uses in practice are presented, as well as solutions to close the gap. © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Policy use Ecosystem assessment Ecosystem management Economic valuation Ecosystem services

1. Introduction Ecosystems provide implicit benefits to human beings so that people fail to realize their true value until they are missing. By making these hidden benefits more visible by clearly stating their monetary value, those who advocate for non-market valuation (NMV) of ecosystem services have hoped to change chronic human disregard for nature. The dominant role of NMV in ecosystem management has been emphasized via different media. And new initiatives have emerged to incorporate ecosystem services into national accounting and investment decisions (Kushner et al., 2012).

* Corresponding author. The School of Economics, Ocean University of China, 238 Songling Road, Qingdao, Shandong 266100, China. E-mail addresses: [email protected] (J. Guo), [email protected] (J. Kildow).

NMV of ecosystem services has been a hot topic in a large and growing literature since the 1990s (Bille et al., 2012). Searching through any literature database, it is quite easy to obtain many references concerning “NMV” or “ecosystem service valuation”. However, despite the abundance of literature, there are only rare reports about whether NMV has played an influential role in policy decisions with respect to ecosystem management (Kushner et al., 2012). Since NMV is normally a costly process, as well as timeconsuming, it is of interest to know whether or not these efforts are actually paying off. Some economists have attempted to answer this question through literature reviews (e.g. Laurans et al., 2013; Fisher et al., 2008). The general conclusion from these reviews was that there was a paucity of published papers that reported on the use of NMV studies in actual management decisions. A number of plausible reasons emerged through interviews with authors who had done NMV studies, to explain the gap between the number of studies and 0964-5691/© 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Please cite this article in press as: Guo, J., Kildow, J., The gap between science and policy: Assessing the use of nonmarket valuation in estuarine management based on a case study of US federally managed estuaries, Ocean & Coastal Management (2014), j.ocecoaman.2014.09.017


J. Guo, J. Kildow / Ocean & Coastal Management xxx (2014) 1e7

the lack of practical applications of NMV: a) a natural time lag may be necessary for decision-makers to identify, understand and actually use such studies. So it may be too early to assess the use of these studies (Fisher et al., 2008); b) skepticism about the reliability of NMV methodologies (Turner et al., 2003) combined with the high cost (SCBD, 2007) of carrying out such studies; c) the lack of economic expertise or access to expertise among decision-makers (Driml, 1997); and the weak support of the regulatory system (Liu et al., 2010). While these publications have cast a light on this issue, authors and researchers can only hypothesize the potential reasons for the gap between an extensive literature and its use in management. Determining whether these speculations are true still needs evidence from the real world. The best solution was to hear from the actual decision makers, the intended users of NMV studies who decide whether and how to use NMV in ecosystem management. The purpose of this paper is to report the results from a survey1 of 55 estuarine program managers across the U.S. 2 to test whether NMV studies have lacked policy traction and the probable reasons. In Section 2, we provide a useful set of categories, summarized from the literature. Section 3 reports the survey results. In Section 4, we address the gap between scientific research and its policy uses and explore some possible reasons behind the gap. Finally, some suggestions to close the gap are briefly made in Section 5 and Section 6 has our conclusions. 2. Categories of useful purposes served by NMV Despite the lack of clarity regarding the influence of NMV on policy decisions, economists continue to explore the potential uses of NMV (Laurans et al., 2013). To help understand that, Laurans et al. (2013) built a synthetic typology of assorted categories based on a literature review, which was one of the most helpful attempts at systematizing uses of NMV. Because there were still some important uses missing from those categories, we have built a new classification system, making the uses of NMV more comprehensive and hopefully more understandable. These uses fall into three main groups: cognitive, operational, and technical. 2.1. Cognitive The primary objective of this category is to influence people's thinking and enhance their understanding of ecosystem services. Decades of efforts by ecologists and environmentalists have made it clear that ecosystem services are important, but it is more difficult to describe how important and which are more important, compared to products and services from market sectors. Without quantifying ecosystem benefits, it is not really possible to answer these questions. Most people only have general and vague ideas about the value of ecosystems, which often vary considerably depending on individual perception and experience. And, most ecosystem services are consumed for free. “No price, no value”, is often what is understood, leading to the large number of endangered species, lost habitats and destruction of major assets such as estuaries. NMV raises the public visibility of ecosystem benefits in the most direct and understandable way, using monetary values, that most people find familiar, and saving thousands of words

1 Survey of Estuarine Managers sponsored by the Center for the Blue Economy, MIIS, 2012e13. 2 Among 55 estuarine programs, 28 came from The National Estuarine Research Reserve System of NOAA while 27 came from The National Estuary Program of EPA. For detailed information, please check the websites: and

explaining complicated ecosystem functions that are beyond public understanding. Additionally, NMV is useful to policy makers by bringing a new perspective for understanding ecosystem services. It links human well-being with specific changes in ecosystems and shows how much humans are better off or worse off due to these changes. In this case, policy makers are more likely to view ecosystem services as an essential part of human well-being that is the focus of most policy decisions. 2.2. Operational This category explains how NMV can be brought into practical decision making processes. Economic analysis (e.g. cost-benefit analysis, i.e. CBA) has been playing an important role in policy decisions for decades. Putting monetary values on ecosystem services that produce benefits allows them a better chance to be considered in the balance. 2.2.1. Project evaluation Since the 1930s, CBA has been an established federal policy for project evaluation in the US (Guess, 2000). As the forms of benefits and costs vary with systems (i.e. ecosystem, economy, society), they are more likely to be compared based on the same measure. To this end, NMV gives ecosystem comparable values to market values for project evaluation or multi-project trade-offs. In fact, in some countries, governments have already put the use of NMV on the agenda. For example, in the US, the regulation for guiding federal infrastructure investments suggests that nonmarket benefits should be given the same weight as market benefits and costs (Raheem et al., 2012). 2.2.2. Regulatory review Because government regulations require CBA, monetizing the changes to human well-being from changes in the environment resulting from a regulation, can potentially improve the efficiency of the regulatory process and lead to more desirable regulations. By exposing policy makers to this additional dimension of CBA, indicating the values derived from ecosystem services, NMV can stimulate new measures where benefits exceed the costs (OMB, 2002). 2.2.3. Natural resource damage assessment (NRDA) NRDA has been at the forefront of the use of NMV in litigation (Liu et al., 2010), which mainly tackles the restoration of damaged resources and compensation for those injuries. The continuing Deep Water Horizon trial is a case in point (Nicholas and Kildow, 2013), in which NMV studies have become a key factor for administrative decisions and court rulings. In addition to presenting use values of an ecosystem, NMV can also calculate non-use values (e.g. existence value, bequest value). Based on the premise that people desire to preserve options for future use or future generations, non-use values indicate a sense of responsibility for preserving natural resources (Kopp and Smith, 1993). Due to the irreversibility of some environmental changes, such as extinctions and loss of key habitat, non-use values can be too great to ignore. 2.2.4. Market-based instruments design Economic measures have proved increasingly useful and efficient in solving ecosystem issues (European Commission, 2012), such as environmental taxes, payments for ecosystem services, preservation credits, etc. However, the efficiency and effectiveness of these market-based instruments are sensitive to rates. For example, if the rate of an environmental tax is too high, it will not work as an appropriate incentive for firms and consumers. NMV, as

Please cite this article in press as: Guo, J., Kildow, J., The gap between science and policy: Assessing the use of nonmarket valuation in estuarine management based on a case study of US federally managed estuaries, Ocean & Coastal Management (2014), j.ocecoaman.2014.09.017

J. Guo, J. Kildow / Ocean & Coastal Management xxx (2014) 1e7

a reference for valuing ecosystem services, can serve as a baseline for designing market-based instruments. 2.2.5. Natural capital accounting GDP is sometimes criticized for misleading signals about the economic performance and well-being of a country (Navrud and Pruckner, 1997). Natural capital accounting has become an interesting complement to market capital accounts over the past decades, by adding a missing piece to those representations. For example, the production of minerals is added to national accounts for GDP through employment and sales, while natural capital accounting subtracts it as the loss of a non-renewable resource. Natural capital also gives natural resources a monetary value. Unfortunately, the process for prompting implementation has been very slow due to lack of internationally-agreed methodologies and support from policy makers (The World Bank, 2012). Having similar goals, NMV can contribute to the development of natural capital accounting. First, natural capital accounting can be based upon NMV methodologically. Second, NMV is more likely to draw attention from policy makers, since it has strong links with policy decisions. 2.3. Technical use A wide selection of applications have been developed to assist decision-making involving ecosystems, such as a) strategic environmental assessment (SEA), b) environmental management systems (EMS), and c) integrated valuation of environmental services and tradeoffs (InVEST). The majority of them require large amounts of data in order to simulate environmental and socio-economic systems. Usually, more information input leads to more accurate analysis, which, in turn, leads to more informed decisions. However, ecological indices, reflecting biophysical conditions of ecosystems, usually take a dominant role in these applications. Instead the economic effects of ecosystems are not taken into account adequately due to lack of relevant data. To this end, NMV estimates enable these tools to tackle the interaction between ecosystems and socio-economic systems. 3. The survey results 3.1. Survey of the use of NMV The purpose of this survey3 was to collect data to test the assumption that there is a gap between theory and policy uses of NMV and to find out the underlying reasons. We chose US estuaries as our case study for several reasons: 1) there were a finite number of them, easily identifiable and responsive to our desire to survey them via the internet; 2) estuaries constitute a large number of the non-market valuation studies because they are complex and well understood natural areas conducive to such valuation; 3) estuaries are one of the most globally abused yet critical natural systems that cry out for non-market values, especially in considerations of costbenefit analyses for developments. A web-based questionnaire of 5e9 questions was sent to the directors of 55 estuarine programs managed by both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the US. The purpose was to

3 The survey questionnaire and the summary of the results are available at: non-market_valuation-questionnaire.pdf and 37768/original/7.31.14.summary_of_the_use_of_non-market_valuation_survey_ results.pdf.


Table 1 The organization of the survey questions on policy use of NMV. Survey group

Survey topic

Programs with NMV studies

Potential use of NMV Practical use of NMV Barriers to use NMV Confidence about NMV Reasons why not carry out NMV studies Economics background Suggestion about improving the use of NMV

Programs without NMV studies All programs

investigate decision makers' experiences and their opinions about undertaking and using NMV studies. The survey divided the 55 estuarine programs into two groups with different questions (see Table 1). Based on whether or not they carried out NMV studies, these questions were designed as a mix of open-ended questions and multiple choices. The reasons why we chose estuarine programs was because a) estuaries involve varied ecosystems and provide a multitude of ecosystem services; b) they have been the focus of numerous NMV studies, contributing to an abundant literature, and c) a system of estuaries is under identifiable management in the US and other nations, so that a common set of people could be surveyed. 3.2. NMV in practice There were a total of 34 responses from 33 identified programs and 1 unidentified program. There were two programs that offered two responses from both director and staff. In order to keep the consistency of results, we removed staff responses from multiple choice questions and kept them in open-ended questions. The responses revealed that NMV was used far less than we assumed, since only 9 programs of the 34 have carried out NMV studies. 3.2.1. Potential use of NMV Based on our efforts in Chapter 2, we listed major potential uses of NMV in the survey so as to capture the spectrum of a decision maker's knowledge about it. The survey results in Table 2 showed that decision makers' awareness about potential uses of NMV ranged over most options listed, with only regulatory review and NRDA (Natural Resources Damage Assessment) absent. The most often sited use for programs that have carried out NMV was to enhance people's awareness of the importance of environmental factors. Far fewer stated they used them for designing marketbased instruments and for assisting environmental management tools. Other than these, other uses were rare and only mentioned by one program. 3.2.2. Practical use of NMV Five of nine programs which had already carried out NMV indicated that the study results influenced their policy decisions. Two of them had opposite opinions and the other two had not used the results yet. Regarding practical uses, NMV did or was about to support ecosystem-based projects or contribute to discussions about them. For example, according to the responses, NMV was successfully used“… to gain support for restoring our coastal landscape”4 and “… to promote the necessity of protecting the estuary…”. It was also expected to aid in “… making the argument for future funding of projects to protect and restore the estuary.” Only one program reported that they had used it “… to

4 Without specific citation, the words that were put in double quotation marks were cited from the survey conducted by Guo and Kildow in 2013.

Please cite this article in press as: Guo, J., Kildow, J., The gap between science and policy: Assessing the use of nonmarket valuation in estuarine management based on a case study of US federally managed estuaries, Ocean & Coastal Management (2014), j.ocecoaman.2014.09.017


J. Guo, J. Kildow / Ocean & Coastal Management xxx (2014) 1e7

Table 2 Responses of the potential use of NMV. Potential use

Responses (total 9)

Cognitive use

To recognize the importance of a given 8 ecosystem or ecosystem service To justify an investment project 1 1 To evaluate an ecosystem development plan 1

Operational Project evaluation use Trade-off of multiple projects Regulatory review Natural resource damage assessment (NRDS) Market-based instruments design Environmental accounting Technical use

0 0

3 To assess the effect of climate change 1 To assess total economic value of 1 ecosystem services 3

demonstrate that the benefits could out-weigh the costs”. In two cases where NMV had no impact on policy decisions, managers agreed that NMV was too new to serve as the basis for broad ranging policy decisions. 3.2.3. Obstacles to broad practical use of NMV The survey results showed that five of eight respondents had problems using the results of NMV in their policy making process. The problems ranged from skepticism about techniques to procedural or administrative problems affecting decision making processes. Specifically, all the responses confirmed that the general skeptical attitude towards NMV was the most serious problem. It turned out that “methods (are) questioned”, “data are not taken seriously”, or even the intention of NMV was considered just to “meet an agenda”. Also, the existing policy making procedure seemed unprepared for NMV, since “traditional valuation techniques” were more welcome. 3.2.4. Confidence in NMV Acceptance of NMV studies and results could be indicated by whether or not people want to carry out more studies. Also, confidence in NMV studies will in part help to decides if NMV has a bright future with wide use. According to our results, four directors who have done NMV were hesitant to do more such research due to a combination of budget restrictions and their skepticism about methods and results. Two programs said they would not carry out any NMV. Yet, support and confidence in NMV was shown by three program managers, who declared they would do more NMV in the future, some of whom had already put it on their agenda. 3.2.5. Why are NMV not even on the agenda? In our survey, the majority of programs have not even put NMV on their agendas. Through the literature review, we assumed a few reasons that might influence people's decision about carrying out NMV. Based on our responses, financial restrictions were the most common reason with 14 responses, since NMV was normally expensive while the budget for estuarine programs was limited. Also eight programs felt they were not ready for NMV due to inadequate data. A category of reasons that concerned the links between NMV and policy questions got a considerable amount of votes. To be specific, seven managers thought NMV was not their priority to solve existing problems, while the unclear policy use of NMV also got seven votes. In fact, non-market values were considered too questionable to inform policy decisions by six respondents. Another reason reported (six votes) was the absence of

people either on staff or easily accessible in the local community to champion economics or the social sciences and their benefits. On the other hand, skepticism about the NMV techniques that were reported to be the main obstacle for the use of NMV was not a dominant cause, with only one vote. 3.2.6. Economics background of estuarine programs Since NMV is an economic concept and also serves as an important part of economic analysis, whether or not an estuarine program has someone with an economics background, probably determines the level of interest and knowledge in NMV. Based on this assumption, we surveyed the background information of estuarine program staff. The survey results showed only four programs had staff with an economics background who were able to offer some suggestions about NMV. When it came to the role of economic analysis in estuarine management, half of the programs (17 responses) took economic analysis seriously in decision making. Another interesting find was that all four programs with economists on staff and seven more of the 17 programs emphasizing economic analysis, had already done NMV. 3.2.7. Suggestions about improving the use of NMV Our survey elicited eight suggestions from the respondents for prioritization. Based on rating (1e5), improvements of non-market methodologies was considered the most important one, while interestingly, support to increase knowledge about NMV methods and applications got relatively low ratings (see Table 3), hardly a solution to improving understanding. 4. Understanding the gap between the science and policy uses Since the survey was only conducted among estuarine programs in the U.S., the results of the survey are limited. However, due to the fact that 1) the U.S. has been playing the leading role in NMV studies; 2) Estuary ecosystems have been the focus of NMV studies, the survey results could be considered representative. Also the purpose of this paper was to test the assumption that there is a gap between NMV studies and their use in policy decisions, which has been speculated in literature but lacked evidence from practice. In order to reduce speculation, we built our opinion on both survey results and a literature review. 4.1. The NMV gaps and possible reasons for them The extensive NMV literature does not appear to have enough practical use, at least not according to our US survey results. The initial NMV, also termed “Economic valuation of ecosystems” dates Table 3 Suggestions of decision makers about improving the use of NMV. Suggestions


Enhanced credibility and reliability of NMV techniques. Clarify the links between policy questions and NMV. Develop less expensive methods to carry out NMV studies. Expand the range of ecosystem benefits/services that can be measured by NMV. Link non-market values explicitly to different stakeholders/user groups. Establish more effective communication channels between economists and estuarine agencies. More support to increase the understanding of the range of non-market values and the array of valuation techniques. More reports about how to use non-market estimates in policy decision making process.

4.17 4.11 4.05 4.05 3.96 3.96 3.75 3.39

a No. 1e5 stand for different level of importance ranging from “not at all important” to “very important”.

Please cite this article in press as: Guo, J., Kildow, J., The gap between science and policy: Assessing the use of nonmarket valuation in estuarine management based on a case study of US federally managed estuaries, Ocean & Coastal Management (2014), j.ocecoaman.2014.09.017

J. Guo, J. Kildow / Ocean & Coastal Management xxx (2014) 1e7

back to the 1960s (Liu et al., 2010). Over a few decades, especially, during these times of intense climate events and degradation of ecosystems, more and more efforts have been made to demonstrate the value of ecosystem services. A wide selection of bibliographic databases (e.g. NOEP, MESP, EVT) and published papers focusing on NMV serve as a good proxy. Based on one literature review, however, Laurans et al. (2013) found that the policy use of NMV is either cursorily mentioned or not mentioned at all in literature, which is confirmed by the survey. Very few estuarine administration agencies have initiated NMV studies in the US, and fewer have put the NMV results into practice. As described in Chapter 2 of this paper, NMV has a broad range of potential uses in the decision making process. Among estuarine programs across the U.S., however, NMV is mainly used to emphasize the importance of ecosystems for the purpose of discussion or persuasion. Unfortunately, this most common and familiar use of NMV may be misunderstood as the only use. Actually, NMV can assist the decision and policy making process in a broader manner. Due to limited knowledge about NMV among administrators and policy makers, and scarce reports of uses, the majority of potential uses of NMV have not made their way into practice, which, in turn, makes NMV less valuable and thus less influential than it might be. Economists have not done enough outside of their profession to build confidence about their work on NMV. Yet, economists continue to refine NMV methods: 1) A basic standardized classification system of ecosystem functions, services and benefits has been created for valuation (Sakuyama and Stringer, 2006; Tuan Vo et al., 2012); 2) a selection of methodologies has been developed for different ecosystem benefits with varied contexts (Liu et al., 2010); 3) other tools like GIS (García et al., 2008), meta-analysis (Brander et al., 2012; Ghermandi and Nunes, 2013), Bayesian belief networks (Haines-Young, 2011) etc. have been created for more reliable valuation. Nevertheless, all of these efforts seem to be ignored, as decision makers still remain skeptical about NMV methodologies. Another problem is that most decision makers surveyed are not qualified to conduct NMV studies or use NMV estimates. A sophisticated understanding of economics underpins NMV studies as well as their uses. Thus, the whole process, from initiating an NMV study to applying it in a specific context requires practitioners that have a command of economics. While our survey results indicated that some estuarine agencies took economic analysis seriously, few had staff with any economics background nor did they seek out nearby economists to assist them. This finding supports the hypothesis from Driml (1997) and Laurans et al (2013) that insufficient economics training of decision-makers might result in the scant use of NMV. 4.2. Issues arising from the gap There are a variety of issues that need attention because of the gap between NMV studies and actual policy uses. These issues, found both in the literature and demonstrated by our survey, are elaborated here. 4.2.1. Value is misunderstood Decision-makers are generally reported to hold a negative opinion of NMV. For example, Some people noted “… skepticism that non-market values could be evaluated …” and some said “… we already know it (ecosystem) is valuable”, so “we don't need a study (NMV) to tell us that …”; or “We feel that the non-market values of our coastal landscape are well-known among the public and government and there is no need to spend more time and money on conveying those values.” Given that most people we surveyed had never done any research involving NMV, we assumed


that their negative attitudes resulted from their lack of knowledge about NVM, misunderstanding what “value” meant by context. In NMV studies, “value” can indicate either utilitarian or intrinsic value. For example, an estuary is considered valuable by biologists because it contributes to the natural balance, whereas recreational use or a protective service that benefits humans directly is more an economic use. The former is called intrinsic value (“it is valuable in and for itself” (Callicott, 1985, p.261)) while the latter is called utilitarian value (“it is valued as a means to some other end or purpose” (Freeman, 2003, p.8)). As an economic method, NMV aims to assess the part of value that benefits consumers. In this case, utilitarian values, such as water filtration, storm buffer or spawning grounds, are more likely to be estimated, because this type of economic valuation has been well-established in economics for decades (Pearce, 2007). Additionally, “value” here stands for a specific monetary term instead of qualitative importance, which not only shows the importance but also the extent of importance. By means of pricing, an array of avenues are opened that bring ecosystems closer to market systems and therefore are more likely to be brought into policy decisions. Thus, if the “importance” can draw attention to ecosystem services, then the “value” can bring practical considerations to them. 4.2.2. Science will not translate into policy automatically Evidence-based policy making, which encourages the use of science to inform decision making, has often resulted in more effective and robust policies and regulations (Cortner, 2000; Holmes and Clark, 2008). It is especially true when it comes to environmental problems that are especially complicated and go far beyond individual perception. Nevertheless, based on our limited survey, a large body of scientific research fails to persuade policy makers of the significance of NMV. Estuarine directors either “remain unconvinced that NMV is really helpful” or “doubt the results and … don't actually figure them into their cost-benefit exercises.” One likely contributing factor is that there is a lack of common language between economists and policy makers. Thousands of NMV studies should be a medium for communication. This may not happen because 1) economic language is not common among policy makers; 2) lack of expertise in economics inside and outside the agencies was common among a considerable percentage of respondents. Another factor could be the absence or at the least, vague connections made in the literature between NMV studies and policy questions. Often policy makers don't know the questions to ask, or if they do seek help with specific policy questions, there is little in the literature to help them, because current studies seldom clarify or even mention policy questions they attempted to solve (Laurans et al., 2013). The absence of realistic contexts makes scientific work less useful to policy makers. 4.2.3. Social science is isolated from natural science Solutions to difficult environmental problems require the synthesis of diverse types of information from both natural and social sciences. Nevertheless, our survey results showed that there has been little or no balance between natural science and social science in estuarine management, reflected in the fact that all program managers were natural scientists, as well as the significant disproportion between employees with natural and social science backgrounds. In this context, social science research unavoidably suffers from indifference and even bias from decision makers. We confirmed through the comments from program managers that “… nonmarket studies would not be areas where” they “would prioritize expending funds …” and they “have not budgeted for social science

Please cite this article in press as: Guo, J., Kildow, J., The gap between science and policy: Assessing the use of nonmarket valuation in estuarine management based on a case study of US federally managed estuaries, Ocean & Coastal Management (2014), j.ocecoaman.2014.09.017


J. Guo, J. Kildow / Ocean & Coastal Management xxx (2014) 1e7

5.2. Promoting problem-driven studies

Table 4 Gaps, issues and suggestions involving NMV studies. Gaps


A large body of literature vs. scarce Value is misunderstood practices in estuarine management A broad range of theoretical uses Science will not vs. limited practical uses translate into policy automatically. Economists ’effort vs. decisionSocial science is makers’ ignorance isolated from natural Economic skills compulsory for science use vs. lack of economic background among practical users

Suggestions Identifying the knowledge gap about NMV Promoting problem-driven studies Involving decision makers in NMV studies

studies …” Since high cost and shrinking budgets are reported as a primary reason why estuarine programs do not conduct NMV studies, social science research, like NMV, will probably continue to be rare. Finally, economists have lacked enthusiasm or knowledge about how to advise the traditional natural science programs. Estuarine managers reported that economists have seldom “approached us (estuarine managers) with an interest in doing this work (NMV)”; or even when they have, “they are few and far between”. That might partly explain why few of the NMV studies involve specific administrative agencies.5

5. Suggestions to close the gap According to our survey, the policy use of NMV studies in U.S. estuarine management has not been self-evident. Although we only took U.S. estuaries into account, the findings can be expanded to administrative agencies concerning other ecosystems due to the typicality of estuaries in NMV studies. We have identified the gaps between NMV studies and their use, and summarized issues that result in these gaps. In order to close the gap, a few suggestions that come from both surveyed managers and literature are proposed for researchers of NMV (see Table 4). It should be noted that we do not explore thorough solutions here. Instead the survey cast light on some problems with higher priorities.

5.1. Identifying the knowledge gap about NMV The scarce policy use of NMV partly stems from decisionmakers' limited knowledge about NMV. The survey made it clear that NMV as well as its potential use is not as well-known as assumed. What has been considered as the basic knowledge of NMV turns out to be only a vague idea among decision-makers. Sometimes the vague idea might lead to misunderstanding and skepticism as we discussed in Section 4.2.1. Our survey suggested some questions that decision-makers might pose, such as how NMV is carried out, the extent to which NMV is accurate and useful, and how and when to use NMV to inform policy decisions. Obviously, the knowledge gap is far beyond that. In order to enhance knowledge of NMV, it is necessary to investigate the knowledge decision-makers have about NMV and identify the specific information needs to further their understanding.

5 NOAA's National Estuarine Research Reserve Program had a prototype training program underway at the time of our survey, to urge their administrators to use NMV studies in their management of their sites. The results of this experiment have not been reported to date.

NMV studies can be used by decision-makers only when they are helpful. The existing large numbers of studies mostly fail to address policy questions, since most of them are theoretical or methodological. To address this issue, there must be more problem-driven studies with a clear statement of problems or description of context (e.g., calculating the appropriate user fees for sustainable financing for MPA management). 5.3. Involving decision-makers in NMV studies Lack of expertise in economics in ecosystem management is another issue to be addressed. Economists should involve management agencies in NMV studies from the beginning. By means of focusing on practical ecosystem problems, NMV studies will be more meaningful for both researchers and users.6 Additionally, we assume that decision-makers might have difficulty understanding economics language due to the rare access to economists. NMV results need to be delivered in a more understandable way that is relevant to decision-makers’ interest. Like what Kushner et al. suggest: “NMV results presented as a percent of GDP or change in tourism revenue are more likely to be read.” 6. Conclusion Socioeconomic development and ecosystem management are often considered as an “either-or” situation, since human greed often leads to a disregard for nature. On the other hand, ecosystems provide an important source of human well-being that is equally the foundation for economic development. It is not appropriate to separate them. Through NMV, ecosystem benefits and economic benefits can not only show linkages between market and nonmarket assets, they can be measured in comparable units so that decision makers are better able to include ecosystems in policy decisions. Our research attempted to find out the reasons for the gap between the NMV studies and their uses by surveying 55 estuarine program managers across the U.S. Results showed that decision makers have limited knowledge about NMV and its use, and varied opinions on the role of such studies in management. Some restrictions that originate from administration agencies, such as tight budgets, limited access to economists and bias against social science research by natural scientists, partially contributes to the lack of policy traction. The conclusion drawn from this survey is that there are some problems with NMV studies that hold back their use in practice. First, among the extensive NMV literature, few describe its practical use in policy making. Second, a broad range of potential uses of NMV have not been noted or accepted by decision makers. Third, NMV studies fail to make the connection between researchers and users. Lastly, lack of expertise in economics among decision makers, or said another way, a broad set of managers unqualified to conduct or use NMV studies, will continue to inhibit its use in environmental management. There are some issues that underlie the gaps based on our survey. 1) People misunderstand the meaning of value in NMV so that they do not think ecosystem services can be valued. 2) It has never been easy to put a theory into practice and make it influential. 3) The separation between social science and natural science hinders

6 We recognize that university research and tenure communities reward work on methodologies more often than work on practical, applied research, so this solution does not come easily and needs addressing at a systemic level.

Please cite this article in press as: Guo, J., Kildow, J., The gap between science and policy: Assessing the use of nonmarket valuation in estuarine management based on a case study of US federally managed estuaries, Ocean & Coastal Management (2014), j.ocecoaman.2014.09.017

J. Guo, J. Kildow / Ocean & Coastal Management xxx (2014) 1e7

the carrying-out and use of NMV studies in a field dominated by natural science. In order to close the gap, we suggest 1) another survey be done to identify the specific knowledge gap in NMV among decision makers; 2) problem-driven studies should be encouraged and funded to promote the policy use of NMV. Moreover, economists' involvement with decision makers might help NMV researchers make their way into practice. NMV develops a new perspective for ecosystem management. The value of science lies in its value for human benefit. Economists may have anticipated that NMV would inform policy decisions. Whether or not NMV is just a passing fancy in the history of ecosystem management remains to be seen. Only time and practice can show us the truth. Acknowledgment The authors would like to thank The National Estuarine Research Reserve Director and staff for supporting our survey, members of the EPA National Estuary Program, the China Scholarship Council for funding for a year in Monterey for one of the authors, Dr. Jing Guo, to spend a residency at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, and the staff at the Center for the Blue Economy for providing mentoring, office and administrative support for this work. Comments received from four anonymous reviewers were also helpful. References Bille, R., Laurans, Y., Mermet, L., Pirard, R., Rankovic, A., 2012. Valuation Without Action? On the Use of Economic Valuations of Ecosystem Services. IDDRI. Policy brief, 07. Brander, L.M., Wagtendonk, A.J., Hussain, S.S., McVittie, A., Verburg, P.H., de Groot, R.S., Van der Ploeg, S., 2012. Ecosystem service values for mangroves in Southeast Asian: a meta-analysis and value transfer application. Ecosyst. Serv. 1, 62e69. Callicott, J.B., 1985. Intrinsic value, quantum theory and environmental ethics. Environ. Ethics 7, 261. Cortner, H.J., 2000. Making science relevant to environmental policy. Environ. Sci. Policy 3 (1), 21e30. Driml, S.M., 1997. Bringing ecological economics out of the wilderness. Ecol. Econ. 23 (2), 145e153. European Commission, 2012. Innovative Use of Financial Instruments and Approaches to Enhance Private Sector Finance of Biodiversity. environment/enveco/biodiversity/pdf/BD_Finance_summary-300312.pdf. Fisher, B., Turner, K., Zylstra, M., De Groot, R., Farber, S., Ferraro, P., Green, R., Hadley, D., Harlow, J., Jefferiss, P., Kirkby, C., Morling, P., Mowatt, S., Naidoo, R., Paavola, J., Strassburg, B., Yu, D., Balmford, A., 2008. Ecosystem services and economic theory: integration for policy-relevant research. Ecol. Appl. 18 (8), 2050e2067. Freeman, A.M., 2003. Economic valuation: what and why. In: Champ, P.A., Boyle, K.J. (Eds.), A Primer on Nonmarket Valuation. Kluwer Academic Publisher, Dordrecht, The Netherland, p. 8 doi: 10.1007/978-94-007-0826-6.


García, N., G amez, M., Alfaro, E., 2008. ANNþGIS: an automated system for property valuation. Neutocomputing 71, 733e742. j.neucom.2007.07.031. Ghermandi, A., Nunes, P.A.L.D., 2013. A global map of coastal recreation values: results from a spatially explicit meta-analysis. Ecol. Econ. 86, 1e15. http:// Guess, G.M., 2000. Cases in Public Policy Analysis, third ed. Georgetown University Press, Washington DC. Haines-Young, R., 2011. Exploring ecosystem service issues across diverse knowledge domains using Bayesian Belief Networks. Prog. Phys. Geogr. 35 (5), 681e699. Holmes, J., Clark, R., 2008. Enhancing the use of science in environmental policymaking and regulation. Environ. Sci. Policy 11 (8), 702e711. 10.1016/j.envsci.2008.08.004. Kopp, R.J., Smith, V.K., 1993. Valuing Natural Assets: the Economics of Natural Resource Damage Assessment. REF Press, U.S., Washington, DC, pp. 264e265 doi: 10.4324/9781315060620. Kushner, B., Waite, R., Jungwiwattanaporn, M., Burke, L., 2012. Influence of Coastal Economic Valuation in the Caribbean: Enabling Conditions and Lessons Learned. Working paper. Marine Ecosystem Services Partnership. http://www. , R., Pirard, R., Mermet, L., 2013. Use of ecosystem Laurans, Y., Rankovic, A., Bille services economic valuation for decision making: questioning a literature blindspot. J. Environ. Manag. 119, 208e219. j.jenvman.2013.01.008. Liu, S., Costanza, R., Farber, S., Troy, A., 2010. Valuing ecosystem services: theory, practice and the need for a transdisciplinary synthesis. Ann. N. Y. Acad. Sci. 1185, 54e78. Navrud, S., Pruckner, G.J., 1997. Environmental valuation- to use or not to use? Environmental and resource economics. Environ. Resour. Econ. 10, 1e26. http:// Nicholas, M., Kildow, J., 2013. The Political Economy of Oil Spill Damage Assessment: the NRDA and Deep Water Horizon. White Paper. Center for the Blue Economy, Monterey Institute of International Studies. media/view/37794/original/8.1.14.political.economy.of.oil.spill.damage. assessment.pdf. Office of Management and Budget (OMB), 2002. “Regulatory Analysis.” Circular A-4, September 17. regulatory_matters_pdf/a-4.pdf. Pearce, D.W., 2007. Do we really care about biodiversity? Environ. Resour. Econ. 37, 313e333. Raheem, N., Colt, S., Fleishman, E., et al., 2012. Application of NMV to California's coastal policy decisions. Mar. Policy 36, 1166e1171. j.marpol.2012.01.005. Sakuyama, T., Stringer, R., 2006. Economic Valuation on Environmental Services from Agriculture: Stocktaking for Incentive Design. In: Roles of Agriculture Project. Policy Brief. Agriculture__ROA_/PolicyBrief1_en.pdf. SCBD, 2007. An Exploration of Tools and Methodologies for Valuation of Biodiversity and Biodiversity Resources and Functions. Technical Series n 28, Montreal, Canada. The World Bank, 2012/6/30. Natural Capital Accounting. http://www.worldbank. org/en/topic/environment/brief/environmental-economics-natural-capitalaccounting. Tuan Vo, Q., Kuenzer, C., Minh Vo, Q., Moder, F., Oppelt, N., 2012. Review of valuation methods for mangrove ecosystem services. Ecol. Indic. 23, 431e446. http:// Turner, R.K., Paavola, J., Cooper, P., Farber, S., Jessamy, V., Georgiou, S., 2003. Valuing nature: lessons learned and future research directions. Ecol. Econ. 46, 493e510.

Please cite this article in press as: Guo, J., Kildow, J., The gap between science and policy: Assessing the use of nonmarket valuation in estuarine management based on a case study of US federally managed estuaries, Ocean & Coastal Management (2014), j.ocecoaman.2014.09.017