Relationships between ecological infrastructure and the economy: The case of a fishery
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment identified the regulating services as amongst the least understood but potentially most valuable services offered by ecosystems. This lack of understanding of regulating services has been a major reason for the overexploitation and degradation of ecosystems. The value of regulating services is best determined through an economic production function approach, which derives the value of regulating services as intermediate inputs into other economic goods and services. We used existing scientific knowledge and data sourced from existing scientific databases and studies to develop and demonstrate empirical production functions that measure relationships between ecological infrastructure and the economy in fisheries in KwaZulu-Natal, along the east coast of South Africa. We applied econometric analyses – a technique that allows for evidence-based analysis of observed data, based on existing scientific knowledge. Our work demonstrates that existing scientific databases may contain useful evidence of relationships between ecological infrastructure and the economy, and that decisions need not always wait for the results of controlled experiments.
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