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Keywords:

  • drylands;
  • soil erosion;
  • land degradation;
  • ecosystem services;
  • economic valuation

The economics of land degradation has received relatively little attention until recent years. Although a number of studies have undertaken valuation of ecosystem services ranging from the global to the micro level, and quite a few studies have attempted to quantify the costs of soil erosion, studies that address the full costs of land degradation are still scarce. In this review, we attempt to analyze different land resource modeling and valuation techniques applied in earlier research and the type of data used in these analyses, and to assess their utility for different forms of land resource and management appraisal. We also report on the strengths and weaknesses of different valuation techniques used in studies on the economics of soil erosion, and the relevance of these valuation techniques. We make a case for the need for more appropriate models that can make the analysis more robust in estimating the economic costs of land degradation while recognizing the spatial heterogeneity in biophysical and economic conditions.