The value of ecosystem services in global marine kelp forests

While marine kelp forests have provided valuable ecosystem services for millennia, the global ecological and economic value of those services is largely unresolved. Kelp forests are diminishing in many regions worldwide, and efforts to manage these ecosystems are hindered without accurate estimates of the value of the services that kelp forests provide to human societies. Here, we present a global estimate of the ecological and economic potential of three key ecosystem services - fisheries production, nutrient cycling, and carbon removal provided by six major forest forming kelp genera (Ecklonia, Laminaria, Lessonia, Macrocystis, Nereocystis, and Saccharina). Each of these genera creates a potential value of between $64,400 and $147,100/hectare each year. Collectively, they generate between $465 and $562 billion/year worldwide, with an average of $500 billion. These values are primarily driven by fisheries production (mean $29,900, 904 Kg/Ha/year) and nitrogen removal ($73,800, 657 Kg N/Ha/year), though kelp forests are also estimated to sequester 4.91 megatons of carbon from the atmosphere/year highlighting their potential as blue carbon systems for climate change mitigation. These findings highlight the ecological and economic value of kelp forests to society and will facilitate better informed marine management and conservation decisions.
© The Author(s) 2023. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit The Version of Scholarly Record of this Article is published in Nature Communications, 2023, available online at: . Keywords: biodiversity; environmental economics; marine biology.
Eger, A.M., Marzinelli, E.M., Beas-Luna, R. et al. The value of ecosystem services in global marine kelp forests. Nat Commun 14, 1894 (2023).