A preliminary estimate of the economic value of Iceland's terrestrial ecosystem services and opportunities for future research

David Cook*, Brynhildur Davíðsdóttir

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Iceland is an understudied nation with respect to the quality, quantity and value of its ecosystem services, despite the growth of nature-based tourism and an economy reliant on abundant natural resources, especially fish stocks and renewable energy. This research reports on the preliminary outcome of an investigation to estimate the economic value of Iceland's ecosystem services (ES). The benefit transfer method is applied using the latest aggregate unit values from the Ecosystem Services Valuation Database, scaled to CORINE land cover types for Iceland. An estimate of 3,209,476 million ISK/year (approximately US $26.1 billion/year) is determined in 2019 prices, which is 1.08 times the size of Icelandic Gross Domestic Product and could be a low estimate due to the omission of cultural ES. Rather than being the final word on the value of Iceland's ecosystem services, this assessment should be viewed as an order of magnitude estimate, a useful starting point for considering the biomes and related ES of likely high economic value in Iceland, which in turn provides a basis for considering potential ES management issues of importance. The study discusses how economic valuation of Iceland's ecosystem services could provide useful information to decision-makers in a range of hotly discussed areas, including the determination of conservation policy, strategic energy management and sustainable land management. The results of this study also imply that there would be merit in conducting a national ES assessment for Iceland, which would integrate extensive stakeholder, biophysical and economic analyses to provide a comprehensive evidence base concerning the benefits supplied to society and how ES underpin the nation's economic prosperity.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100076
JournalSustainable Futures
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The main author, David Cook, is in receipt of a Post-Doctoral Fellowship Grant from the University of Iceland. This study did not benefit from any sources of external funding.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022

Other keywords

  • Benefit transfer
  • Decision-making
  • Economic valuation
  • Ecosystem services
  • Iceland


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