The objective of this study is to analyse the evolution of research on the economic valuation of ecosystem services over the last two decades. More specifically, it aims firstly to identify the main agents driving research and, secondly, it seeks to synthesize in a single document the relevant information on the main economic valuation methods, relating them to the categories of services, ecosystems and regions where they have been employed.
Methods: A quantitative review was first carried out through a bibliometric analysis to identify the main drivers of this line of research and its development trends. Secondly, a qualitative review was conducted through a systematic review focusing on the most commonly used valuation techniques in relation to the characteristics of the service, the geographical scope and the ecosystem analysed.
Findings & value added: The main novelty of this work, compared to previous literature, is that the relationship between the study area, the type of ecosystem, the category of service and the economic valuation methodology are analysed for the first time. The results highlight the need to continue expanding knowledge in relation to the temporal and spatial scale in the economic value of ecosystem services, the subjective nature of the estimates and the heterogeneity between the different social sectors with respect to the benefit obtained.