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Abstract

A wetland has no economic value in and of itself. Nor does it have a unique value, irrespective of context. Economic value is ascribed to a wetland by humans operating at a confluence of individual preferences, property rights, technological opportunities, and available resources. Such values are not generally reflected in market prices, a deficiency that can nonetheless addressed by competent economic analysis, using a variety of empirical techniques. The task is complicated by scientific information shortfalls, by ever-changing technologies and economies, and by evolving societal preferences--but it can be done. Economic valuations have been used in wetland priority rankings and in comparative investment analyses.

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