June 16, 2024

Adventure Awaits Journeyers

Discovering the World Anew

Towards a common approach to assess nature’s contribution to tourism

2 min read

Researchers present a novel overview of ecosystem services assessment approaches related to nature-based tourism, with specific focus on monetary valuation methods. An important contribution towards development of harmonized methodologies, and uptake of ecosystem services information in planning and development processes. 

The beautiful Geiranger Fjord, UNESCO World Heritage Site and a popular tourist destination. Photo credit: Odd Terje Sandlund

Tourism is one of the world’s largest industries, generating nearly 10 % of the global gross domestic product (GDP). Nature-based tourism represent 20 % of the tourism sector, contributing to both local livelihoods and economies, and conservation of invaluable nature for future generations.    

Researchers from NINA and Bulgarian colleagues has teamed up to evaluate methodologies for monetary valuation of ecosystem services in the tourism sector in Bulgaria, as an approach to integrate natural capital information in, for instance, investment and business planning, and for monitoring sustainability of activities at local and sector levels. 

In a recently published report experts from NINA provide an overview and discuss contexts in which ecosystem services assessments can be useful when developing nature-based tourism. They present various monetary valuation methods, including those compatible with national accounts following the United Nations statistical standard, i.e. the System of Environmental Economic Accounting – Ecosystem Accounting (SEEA – EA).  

No current common global approach

There is currently no common framework to assess the potential contribution of nature to nature-based tourism activities, or how these values can conflict with other land-use allocations. Ecosystem services assessments could play this part, says Rusch, as they capture a broader range of values, which can be made explicit, quantified, and weighted against each other. 

Despite this potential, the application of ecosystem services assessments to support planning and investment decisions is still at its infancy, both generally and for the tourism sector.  

The momentum triggered by the SEEA EA process, as well as the new commitments under the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF, Targets 9, 14, 15 and 21) of the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD), has the potential to foster the further development of ecosystem services methodologies in the tourism sector, concludes Rusch.


The Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) of the United Nations Convention of Biological Diversity

This historic framework, adopted at the UN Biodiversity Conference in 2022, supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The GBF has 23 action-oriented global targets for urgent action over the decade to 2030. 

Target 9: Manage Wild Species Sustainably To Benefit People 

Target 14: Integrate Biodiversity in Decision-Making at Every Level 

Target 15: Businesses Assess, Disclose and Reduce Biodiversity-Related Risks and Negative Impacts 

Target 21: Ensure That Knowledge Is Available and Accessible To Guide Biodiversity Action 


Read the Report: Aronsen, E.E., Rusch, G.M. & Immerzeel, B. 2024. Ecosystem services assessments and nature-based tourism – Approaches focusing on monetary valuation methods

Contact: Graciela Rusch


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