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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Faculty of Life Sciences - Resource Economics

Dissertation of Franz Gatzweiler

The Changing Nature of Economic Value. Indigenous forest garden values in Kalimanatan, Indonesia

Start: 1996
End: 2002

This book takes a critical, ecological economists’ view on the mechanistic perception of human behaviour and economic values for the purpose of biodiversity valuation. By analysing the historical and cultural roots of economic value, the author shows that the dominant economic concept of value, the willingness to pay, is not a panacea for valuing biodiversity. Applying market-based techniques to non-market societies can lead to adverse environmental effects. This volume draws on findings from other scientific disciplines to show that economic values evolve from a mutual socio-ecological relationship. From this they are “brought forth” by the ways people relate to each other and to their natural environment. The relationship is complex and dynamic and needs to take into account the various attributes of actors, the environmental goods and services they value and the rules for management, consumption and distribution. It is crucial to understand the operational mode and governance of an economy for choosing an appropriate valuation technique. The theoretical investigation into the nature of economic value is amended by a comprehensive empirical analysis of the rubber forest gardens of West Kalimantan and forest environments in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. The rubber forest gardens provide the indigenous Dayak societies with food, building and crafting materials, herbs, spices, and medicines. Rubber is an additional source of monetary income. Natural forests have been converted into forest gardens and frequently monocultural rubber plantations have been enriched by additional fruit or timber species. Thus leading to the growth of species rich rubber forest gardens. These biodiversity generating strategies are often higher valued than cash generating strategies. Adequate economic valuation, therefore, needs to reflect the specific “nature of economic value” as perceived by local communities, which is determined by both ecology and culture.

Researcher: Gatzweiler, Franz

Advisor: Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Konrad Hagedorn