The ecosystem services (ES) concept is one of the main avenues for conveying society's dependence on natural ecosystems. On-ground applicationsof the concept are now widespread and diverse and include its use as a communication tool, for policy guidance and priority setting, andfor designing economic instruments for conservation. Each application raises ethical considerations beyond traditional controversies related tothe monetary valuation of nature. We review ethical considerations across major on-ground applications and group them into the followingcategories: anthropocentric framing, economic metaphor, monetary valuation, commodification, sociocultural impact, changes in motivations,and equity implications. Different applications of the ES concept raise different suites of ethical issues, and we propose methods to address theissues most relevant to each application. We conclude that the ES concept should be considered as only one among various alternative approachesto valuing nature and that reliance on economic metaphors can exclude other motivations for protecting ecosystems.
Luck, G., Chan, K., Eser, U., Gómez-Baggethun, E., Matzdorf, B., Norton, B., & Potschin, M. B. (2012). Ethical considerations in on-ground applications of the ecosystem services concept. Bioscience, 62(12), 1020-1029. https://doi.org/10.1525/bio.2012.62.12.4