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Valuing our Natural Environment - NR0103

Decisions to use, conserve, enhance or protect the natural environment involve trade-offs, in the form of forgoing alternative uses for both the natural resources involved and for public money. It is therefore essential to develop methods which enable policy-makers to systematically and objectively assess the options to use and protect the natural resources.

There are a variety of valuation methods currently in use, including several that are based on economic theory (economic valuation) and several others (non-economic valuation). This project will review all robust methodologies in terms of their theoretical basis as well as their use in practice. In addition to this methodological review, the project will also provide a strategic overview of the existing evidence on the value of natural environment. The project will also consult decision makers in Defra and other stakeholders in terms of their needs for evidence on the value of natural environment and their experience with using different methodologies and conveying their outputs.

Both economic and non-economic valuation methods have their advantages and disadvantages. It is also not possible to find a methodology that would fit all contexts and answer the questions of all stakeholders at all levels of decision making. Therefore, it is crucial for this study to review the theory and practice of the valuation methodologies, both in terms of their intrinsic robustness and in terms of the conflicts and complementarities between them.

As well as being concerned about the recent and current practice, the project will also benefit from separate analysis on the future policy trends and needs and investigate how valuation methodologies can respond to these developments.

Finally, valuation methods are also used in measuring prosperity, i.e. alternatives to Gross Domestic Product. The project will also review the relatively limited experience with these alternative measures of prosperity.
Project Documents
• Final Report : Final Report - longer version   (394k)
• Final Report : Final Report - SID 5 Format   (284k)
• Final Report - Annex : Final Report - Annexes   (899k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2005

To: 2006

Cost: £55,700
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Economics for the Environment Consultancy
Economic Methodologies              
Natural Environment              
Fields of Study
Ecosystems Approach