Use this tool to break down the ecosystem service assessment process into a logical sequence of steps.

Each step provide you with the objective, the expected outcome as well as resources, illustrative real world cases and tools & methods.

Outcomes of this stage


Identify plural values

Values refer to a principle associated with a given worldview or cultural context, a preference someone has for a particular state of the world, and/or the importance of something for itself or for others. These different types of values are often interlinked. For example, ethical principles can lead one to assign importance to different ecosystem services and consequently to have a preference for a specific course of action. It is important to incorporate all types of values into land and water management, also the non-tangible ones.

Valuation methods

A wide range of socio-cultural and monetary valuation methods are available to capture plural values.  Socio-cultural valuation methods explore ways of representing cognitive, emotional, and ethical responses to nature. Approaches include preference assessment within multi-criteria analysis and time use methodsphoto-elicitation; photoseries analysis; narrative methods; participatory mapping of ecosystem services; scenario planning and deliberative methods.  Socio-cultural valuation methods cover a wide range of  contexts, but are particularly suited for exploring context specificity of values, and aspects of ecosystem services that cannot be commodified or expressed through markets. Monetary valuation methods quantify preferences, needs, and desires of people for ecosystem services in money terms.  Monetary valuation methods include cost-based methods, hedonic property pricing, production function approach, shadow pricing, stated preference methods, and travel cost methods, and value transfer methods. Depending on the decision context and the method, valuation estimates will be conditional on how stakeholders rights are affected and on their disposable income.  Monetary valuation approaches cover a wide range of contexts, but are particularly suited for describing values across wider populations for ecosystem services that are traded directly or indirectly in markets.

Valuation results, synthesis and integrated assessment

Socio-cultural and monetary valuation results can be used for awareness raising about specific aspects of ecosystem services.  Some socio-cultural valuation results can support stakeholder dialogue and in some cases also conflict resolution processes.  Monetary valuation methods can be used in natural capital accounting to monitor trends in the market values of ecosystem services, and in benefit-cost analysis of environmental management measures that have mainly market-related impacts. Individual monetary valuation methods can inform the design of monetary incentives and in some special cases be used to determine the economic value of environmental liabilities. Multi-criteria methods can be used to address trade-offs and elicit participants’ preferences for alternative courses of action, and Bayesian belief networks can synthesis value information for decision support.