Open access publication: Large-scale river restoration pays off – A case study of ecosystem service valuation for the Emscher restoration generation project

An article based on the research carried out in the DESSIN project was published open access by numerous DESSIN authors at the Ecosystem Services Journal at Elsevier.

From the abstract: “Though the Ecosystem Service (ESS) approach is considered promising for integrated ecosystem management, its operationalisation is hampered by the lack of agreed evaluation instruments. To demonstrate the suitability of a structured ESS evaluation, we conducted a case study estimating the impact of the restoration of the Emscher River and its tributaries on the provision, use and benefit of ESS. The Emscher restoration is a large-scale project with immense temporal and financial efforts.

To assess the values generated by this restoration, we applied an ESS evaluation framework and quantified the regulation and maintenance ESS ‘self-purification capacity’, ‘maintaining nursery populations and habitats’ and ‘flood protection’ as well as cultural ESS such as aesthetic, recreational, educational and existence values. Final ESS were monetized using economic methods, e.g. ‘damage costs avoided’, ‘contingent valuation’ and ‘benefit transfer’. We estimated a market value/direct economic impact of 21,441,572 € per year as a result of the restoration. Furthermore, a non-market value for people who care about the local environment of 109,121,217 € per year was determined, representing the benefit with ‘non-use value’ from the Emscher restoration. Our case study demonstrated the successful application of the structured evaluation framework in practice. Its implications and limitations are discussed.”