How to measure ecological values

Jayanti Roy Ecology and Human Well-Being Eds. Pushpam Kumar and B. Sudhakar Reddy. Sage publications. Pages 404. Rs 1,100. Ecology and Human Well-BeingTO put a value tag on the goods and services that we get from the ecosystem has been on the agenda of economists and ecologists alike, as this can be of great relevance in the execution and implementation of plans for the welfare of human beings. However, to calculate how much our wetlands, forests, mangroves, coastal areas and other ecosystems are worth in monetary terms is not an easy task due to inadequacy of our tools as well as due to the ever-changing nature of ecosystems. The researchers are constantly striving to find out ways through which informed choices can be made in taking decisions regarding natural resources. We need to have a holistic scientific basis to judge the pros and cons of preserving and sustaining our ecology. The book is an effort in this direction and consists of a selection of articles presented in the Fourth Biennial Conference of Indian Society for Ecological Economics in 2005. The theme of the conference is the title of the book. The objective of the conference as well as the book is to explore ecology and to develop an understanding of its relevance to human well-being to work towards ecological sustainability. This book through its 21 chapters has covered a wide spectrum of issues starting from ecological and social resilience to ecosystem services, their valuation, management and policy reforms and sustainable development. There is no doubt that it can be of interest and use to students, researchers, policy makers and professionals working in the field. There are valuation studies of urban wetlands in Kolkata, mangroves in coastal Orissa, the potential of voluntary participation in management of common property resources and forests in Karnataka, food security issues in Tamil Nadu. A chapter on environmental protection evaluates the functioning of the regulatory system in India. Some other significant studies examine ecosystem changes in coastal Gujarat and environmental degradation in Andhra Pradesh, thus picking up local issues and developing indigenous data and knowledge base. Many of the studies give policy implications, recommendations and suggestions All the studies are detailed, accompanied with figures, tables and exhaustive references which make them reliable basis for policy making and implementation of various schemes. The contributors are mainly researchers from the universities or institutes of repute. There is a smooth consistency in the themes chosen and uniformity in the format of chapters. With a detailed list of abbreviations and a comprehensive index, the book gives a glimpse into the hard work the editors have put in.

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