Cross-fertilizing our 3rd Call for Requests  back to the theme

Member: Gill Ainsworth

Date: 06.07.2018



Can we determine, from synthesis of existing research and practice, whether it is possible to establish an agreed universal method of assigning an ecosystem services valuation to biodiversity and/or ecological networks? If so, can we then devise an approach that can be applied within an ecosystem services analysis methodology?


This request was submitted by a representative of the Greater Manchester Ecology Unit/Natural Course


A recent ecosystem services study carried out as part of Natural Course EU LIFE Integrated Project was not able to apply a monetary value directly to biodiversity and ecological networks, and so these headings were not included in the analysis. This potentially skews the valuation of features and opportunities, and attracts criticism for apparently disregarding intuitively important elements of an ecosystem.


Analysis of ecosystem services is increasingly being used as an input to planning and design decisions affecting people and the environment. For instance, in the development of the next version of the North West River Basin District Management Plan, part of the Water Framework Directive. In the meantime, outputs of this request will be fed into Urban Pioneer, where it will be used within natural capital and ecosystem services assessment testing, and be part of the understanding and sharing of best practice for future assessments. Urban Pioneer is one of four DEFRA Pioneer projects designed to support and inform the development of Government’s approach in its 25 Year Environment Plan, which describes how the government will work with communities and businesses to leave the environment in a better state than we found it. Urban Pioneer also seeks to use the natural capital approach to embed environmental net gain in the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework; the city region's upcoming strategic planning blueprint.

Last edited: 18.07.2018 14:43 (GMT) - by Gill Ainsworth

Member: John Gossage

Date: 31.07.2018 12:38 (GMT)

I have just joined, so I am a little diffident.

Have you looked at EnviTAG? There is a discussion paper there on Valuing Biodiversity written by eftec in 2015 <a href='' target='_blank'></a>
In the UK NEA and NEA FO Ian Batemen deployed the TIM model, which had a biodiversity module where biodiversity was not priced but introduced as a constraint. This implicitly provides a measure of the opportunity cost of biodiversity, and the eftec paper speculates whether this could be used at a regional level. Since biodiversity is both an intermediate and a final service, and both a use and non-use value, it is very difficult to arrive at a comprehensive welfare valuation. The natural capital accounting conventions at present seek only to value the flow of final services, so the aspects of biodiversity which serve as inputs to final services would be double counted. Now in theory it would be possible to attribute a value to this input and subtract it from the value of the final service (which is the way value added is calculated in the system of national accounts) but natural capital accounting is not sufficiently developed to do this currently. It is entirely possible the final service is actually worth less than the biodiversity input, in which case it would be value destroying. My current excuse for not valuing biodiversity is that it would involve double counting . . . however I think we have possibly over-sold the argument that unless something has £££s attached its value will be ignored by policy makers and others taking decisions.

We are developing an alternative approach in Wales which emphasises ecosystem resilience. This implies the biophysical stocks of natural capital need to consider not just location, extent and condition but also diversity and connectivity, whilst a judgement with respect to resilience (especially adaptation) also needs to consider the effective demand for ecosystem services with respect to capability, capacity and redundancy.

Last edited: 31.07.2018 12:46 (GMT) - by John Gossage

Date: 31.07.2018 14:58 (GMT)

Dear John Cossage, thank you for this very interesting input.

Are you sure you want to delete this post?