The Economic Value of Wetlands in Urban Areas

Author(s): Liya Sierra

Urban growth has impacted natural ecosystems such as wetlands. This situation destabilizes the beneficial contributions of nature, generating a socioeconomic effect. There is a need to quantify the benefits of wetlands in developing countries and urban areas, where the growth of cities is fastest. This is the first valuation study of urban and peri-urban wetlands in Colombia. The methodology includes a benefit transfer (BT) method with a geographical information system (GIS) and an exploratory governance analysis. Because there are few studies on the economic valuation of urban wetlands in Latin America, we present a methodology of interest, which can be easily replicated in other cities of this subcontinent. Based on an economic approach, our results find that 76% of the total value of wetlands is provided by ecosystem services (ES) of existence and legacy value, followed by maintenance of the life cycle of migratory species and water supply. Urban areas are identified where users benefit more than areas where the population exerts greater pressure on wetlands.