Classification and valuation of soil ecosystem services

Jón Örvar G. Jónsson, Brynhildur Davídsdóttir

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)


Soil ecosystem services (ES) provide multiple benefits to humans but to date no consensus has formed on a comprehensive framework for their classification and economic valuation, and therefore a systematic approach has not been developed to evaluate their importance. We present a literature review of soil ES and functions, the economic methods that have been used to value them, and values that have been derived from various studies under different type of land use. We illustrate how recent developments in the field of Earth Critical Zone research are contributing to the development of soil ES valuation techniques within the ES framework. These developments have further underpinned the necessity to include the multiple aspects of soils in ES frameworks because of their fundamental roles in ecosystem functionality and vitality. We provide examples on how soil ES can be classified and valued using standard economic methods and established analysis frameworks. We show how significant economic value is derived from soil ES and thus highlight the economic losses associated with soil degradation. Furthermore, we also demonstrate the need to develop a comprehensive framework for the economic assessment of soil ecosystem services in order to better inform decision-making at various levels of governance regarding land use and management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-38
Number of pages15
JournalAgricultural Systems
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Elsevier B.V.

Other keywords

  • Earth Critical Zone
  • Economic valuation
  • Soil ecosystem services (ES)
  • Soil natural capital


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