On the economic valuation of cultural ecosystem services: A tale of myths, vine and wine2020

    BOATTO V., ONOFRI L.Journaux et Revues (scientifiques)

    biens et services écosystémiques, capital naturel, valeur d'existence / culturelle

    Ecosystem Services
    Volume 46, December 2020, 101215

    • Focus on CES as co-produced outcomes of humans’ interaction with nature and ecosystems.

    • We follow Daily et al. (2009) call on developing non-monetary methods for CES valuation.

    • CES valuation method based on the analysis of myths and an application to vine and wine.

    • Myths/CES are returns to interaction between natural and human capital in time/space.

    • Past myths/CES are valued in the present accumulated stock of cultural capital.

    The paper proposes a qualitative valuation method for cultural ecosystem services (CES) based on the analysis of myths, which are interpreted as returns generated by the interaction between natural and human capital (in time and space). Those returns become investments that add up, contribute to form, eventually become, and are accounted as cultural capital. The myths, therefore, are CES indicators (of the time and place where and when they were produced) and can be interpreted as measures of the CES flows. Moreover, some myths eventually survive and add up to a society present cultural capital that produces both cultural and economic value.

    In this perspective, the methodology aims at scrutinizing the content of the myths in terms of (1) socio-economic milieu and ecosystems that have produced the myth, (2) main messages displayed by the myth (3) key identification elements of the myths and (4) influence and bequest in cultural capital and culture formation and current cultural attitude towards the ecosystem service. This allows to qualitatively analyse the features, the rates of depletion and accumulation of the cultural capital, eventually produced by ecosystems.

    The methodology is applied to the cultural services provided by vine and wine. We analyse myths from 5000 b.C to 100 a.C., told in the fertile Triangle of the Vine (Eurasia, including India) to the Mediterranean basin. Results show that myths are an expression of human and natural capital of the time and space, when and where they were generated. However, they convey cultural values, related to the vine and wine, that are still existing and can be identified and accounted as cultural capital. In this perspective, the CES, through the myths, tell a story of small prehistoric wild vine shoots that were able to create long-lasting civility and culture still affecting several dimensions of current cultural capital, like attitude to wine consumptions, figurative arts, intellectual thinking, among selected aspects.

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