The metrics of making ecosystem services

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations


Ecosystem services (ES) are increasingly used as the conceptual driver for conservation and development actions, largely following from the influential Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Scholars skeptical of the neoliberal turn in conservation have critiqued the use of economic values for nature's services. What has been less well understood and reviewed, however, is how concepts of ES are enacted by technologies of calculation, as well as how calculative practices move through networks and among stakeholders. This review traces how definitions and metrics of ES have evolved and how they are used, such as in biodiversity off setting and wetland mitigation programs. Using the idea of the creation and deployment of calculative mechanisms, this article discusses how these processes proceed in diff erent ES contexts, assesses what work has to happen ontologically to make ES commensurable and circulatable, and speculates on what the opportunities for future pathways other than commodification are.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)96-124
Number of pages29
JournalEnvironment and Society: Advances in Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Anthropology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Global and Planetary Change


  • Calculation
  • Carbon
  • Commodification
  • Ecosystem services
  • Measurement
  • Metrology

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