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The Creation of Markets for Ecosystem Services in the United States

The Challenge of Trading Places

By Mattijs van Maasakkers

The Creation of Markets for Ecosystem Services in the United States

A detailed, critical analysis of the most advanced efforts to create ecosystem services markets on a watershed scale in the United States

Imprint: Anthem Press
ISBN 9781783086023
November 2016 | 166 Pages | 229 x 152mm / 9 x 6 | 5 tables and 2 figures
PRICE:  £70.00  /  $115.00  Buy from Amazon.co.uk  Buy from Amazon.com

About This Book

“This is a thoughtful and engaging history of the often misguided attempts to create markets for ecosystem services in the US and a guide to more participatory institutions that might work significantly better. Essential reading for anyone interested in ecosystem services.” Robert Costanza, Chair in Public Policy, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University

The Creation of Markets for Ecosystem Services in the United States is a detailed, critical analysis of the most advanced efforts to create ecosystem services markets in the United States. With the help of in-depth case studies of three well-known attempts to create such markets––in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the Ohio River basin and the Willamette River basin––the book explains why very few of these markets have actually succeeded even after close to two decades of much scholarly enthusiasm, significant federal funding and concerted efforts by NGOs, government agencies and private businesses.

Based on interviews, policy analysis and participatory observation, three features of markets for ecosystem services emerge as particularly problematic. First, the logic of displacement or the idea that particular elements of an ecosystem can be separated, quantified and traded across landscapes or watersheds runs counter to political interests, environmental beliefs and people’s connections to specific places. The second problem is that of measurement. By highlighting the long and often contentious histories of specific measurement systems used in ecosystem services markets, van Maasakkers shows that these quantification methods embed a range of assumptions and decisions about what counts when conserving or restoring (parts of) ecosystems. The third problem is related to participation in environmental decision-making. Since the requirements to buy offsets stem from federal and sometimes state regulations (based on the Clean Water Act or the Endangered Species Act), the opportunities and requirements for public participation are much more in line with typical policy implementation processes as opposed to voluntary decisions about buying and selling in an ideal typical market. How meaningful participation in this hybrid form of regulatory market is possible is not clear and not something that the proponents of markets have successfully dealt with, if at all.


Readership: The popularity of the ecosystem services concept and the prevalence of markets and market-like instruments as environmental policy tools makes this book appealing to people with a broad interest in environmental policy. It will also be important to scholars and students in the fields of public policy, ecosystem services, urban planning and science and technology studies.

Author Information

Mattijs van Maasakkers is an assistant professor of city and regional planning at Ohio State University. Trained at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, van Maasakkers’s research and teaching focus on the role of science and technology in environmental policy-making and implementation.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations; List of Interviews; Acknowledgments; 1. Introducing Ecosystems to the Marketplace; 2. Creating Places for Markets; 3. Producing Equivalence; 4. Developing Participation; 5. Trading Places; Bibliography; Index.

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