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Taking into Account Opportunity Costs when Assessing Costs of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Action

Taking into Account Opportunity Costs when Assessing Costs of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Action

The combined cost of all different EU policy actions for biodiversity is roughly estimated at €10.6 billion per year. Within this, opportunity costs amount to approximately €8.4 billion.

The study addresses the following aspects

  1. Identification of the types of costs associated with biodiversity policy in the EU: both direct and indirect as well as opportunity costs.
  2. A review of the available literature to find any gaps in the cost analysis – such as the opportunity costs of conversion to other uses – and to assess the extent of these gaps.
  3. An estimate of the total economic costs of biodiversity policy (including opportunity costs) in the EU.
  4. Information on how to systematically fill any such gap in the future and on the methodologies that can be used to comprehensively address all types of economic costs.


Kaphengst, Timo et al. 2011: Taking into account opportunity costs when assessing costs of biodiversity and ecosystem action. Ecologic Institute, IEEP, GHK.

Samuela Bassi
Sarah Gardner
Leonardo Mazza
Mav Pieterse
Matt Rayment
198 pp.
Project ID
Table of Contents

1 Objectives and Approach
1.1 Background
1.2 Objectives and scope of the study
1.3 Definition of biodiversity and ecosystem actions
1.4 Methodological approach
2 Overview of Costs Incurred in selected categories of the EU Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP)
2.1 Foregone development opportunities
2.2 Natura 2000 (Category A)
2.3 National (terrestrial) protected areas (Category B)
2.4 Species conservation (Category C)
2.5 Conservation and restoration of High Nature Value Farmland (Category D)
2.6 Conservation and restoration of forest areas (Category D)
2.7 Conservation and restoration of biodiversity in the marine environment (Category E)
2.8 Wider environmental policy measures positively affecting biodiversity (Category F)
2.9 EU Strategy to combat Invasive Alien Species (Category F)
2.10 EU Research on biodiversity
3 Analysis and conclusions
3.1 Estimating overall costs and opportunity costs of biodiversity action at EU level
3.1.1 Brief summary on available cost estimates
3.1.2 Synthesis of cost incurred in EU biodiversity policies
3.2 Recommendations for a future methodology for estimating opportunity costs in biodiversity policies
3.2.1 Analysing cost types and their relevance for biodiversity actions
3.2.2 Calculating costs of biodiversity action across different policy areas
3.3 Conclusions
4 References
Annex A. Sources of synthesis: Literature review
Natura 2000
Species specific measures
Agri-environmental measures and HNV farmland
Forest conservation and forest management
The marine environmen
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan
Research and education
Annex B. Methodology of cost calculation for agri-environment payments
Annex C. Costs of Rural Development Programmes

biodiversity, nature conservation, economic studies, Europe, EU Member States,