The Valuing Nature Programme

The five year, £6.5m Valuing Nature Programme aims to better understand and represent the complexities of the natural environment in valuation analyses and decision making. It will consider the economic, societal and cultural value of ecosystem services.  

The Programme will fund research and support researchers in making links with policymakers, businesses and practitioners through the Valuing Nature Network.

A Programme Coordination Team is running a series of events and activities to develop the Valuing Nature Network and to help build an interdisciplinary research community capable of working across the natural, biological and social sciences, and the arts and humanities.

Programme Research Goals

The programme will fund research related to valuation in two areas:

The Valuing Nature Programme is funded by:

From Values to Decisions

Bridging the gap between supply and demand for valuation evidence (BRIDGE)


Nature provides a wide range of benefits to people including goods that we consume (such as wild foods or timber), the regulation of our natural environment (e.g. trees store carbon, wetlands help regulate water flows and thus reduce flooding) and the provision of cultural benefits (such as the joy we feel when viewing wildlife).

The capacity of UK natural resources to deliver these valued ‘ecosystem services’, however, has declined dramatically over the last 60 years. Although natural, social and economic scientists have increasingly produced evidence on the immense value of nature, the uptake of this evidence by decision-makers has been limited. 

The VNN BRIDGE project investigated the relationship between the 'supply of' and 'demand for' evidence on the value of nature. By better understanding the processes around the generation and uptake of knowledge, and the needs of decision-makers, we can help improve the decisions that policy-makers, businesses and the third sector make. 

BRIDGE was slightly different from the other Valuing Nature Network projects in that it was exploring how scientific evidence can best be used to develop more effective policies. A clear message that we have found during a series of workshops with researchers and decision makers is that the scientific evidence produced by researchers is not always in a format suitable to help decision makers design policies. The BRIDGE project investigated how to bring these two communities (researchers and decision makers) together to develop better policies in the future.

End of project summary poster

Top 10 research Questions

During the discussions, it was clear that there were currently significant knowledge gaps in how the values of nature are used in decision-making. The team identified 28 key research questions to meet these gaps. The top 10 questions were:

  1. Values for ecosystem services: How can people’s values for different provisioning, regulating and cultural ecosystem services best be identified, measured, aggregated and used in decision-making?
  2. How to express values: What preferences do people have for the way in which values are elicited (e.g. as individuals or in groups; using monetary or non-monetary measures), and why, and how can valuation techniques be adapted to account for these preferences?
  3. Deliberation, participation and social learning: What opportunities do deliberation, participation and social learning approaches bring to the development of valuation methods? Do these approaches influence people’s values, do they provide people with different ways to express values, does their usefulness vary between different dimensions of value and types of ecosystem services, and how are the resultant values perceived by decision-makers?
  4. Evidence needs: What kind of evidence on the value of ecosystems and associated ecosystem services do decision-makers need to improve their decisions, and how do these evidence needs vary across different decision-makers, and in different decision-making contexts and venues?
  5. Decision-making processes: How do decision-makers incorporate ecosystem knowledge and value evidence in their decisions, and what factors account for this pattern of knowledge use?
  6. Risk and uncertainty: How do people’s perceptions of risk, uncertainty and vulnerability (particularly relating to changes in ecosystems and the delivery of services) influence their held and expressed valuations and how might these perceptions be measured in a way that generates data useful for decision-making?
  7. Shared social values: Can people simultaneously possess and express ‘individual’ values, ‘social’ values, and ‘shared social’ values, and, if so, how do they relate to each other and how can they be defined, identified, measured, aggregated and used in decision-making?
  8. Knowledge: How does people’s existing knowledge and new knowledge acquired in a valuation exercise influence their held and expressed valuations, and how might the impacts of this knowledge be measured in a way that generates data useful for decision-making?
  9. Empirical evidence: How, why and in what circumstances has the adoption of value evidence, the ecosystems approach, the ecosystem services framework, and/or ecosystem service assessments and value evidence led to ‘better’ policy decisions?
  10. Making evidence more useful: How can evidence on the value of ecosystems and associated ecosystem services be presented in such a way that it is more useful to particular types of decision-makers in different decision-making contexts and venues?

The above outputs are of interest to both the academic and decision-making communities, and will inform future research on how to provide more targeted and more legitimate value evidence that better meets the demands of decision-makers.



BRIDGE aims to...

...directly address the Valuing Nature Network challenge 4 by developing a transdisciplinary hub of researchers and decision-makers to investigate how ecosystem service values obtained from natural, social and economic sciences can best be integrated into governance to improve decision-making and implementation. 


  • Objective 1: Assess the state of expert knowledge around VNN challenge 4.
  • Objective 2: Clarify central concepts around the supply of and demand for ecosystem service valuation evidence and develop a common vocabulary and theoretical approach to integrating this evidence into decision-making.
  • Objective 3: Identify a future research agenda on how to best integrate ecosystem service valuation evidence into decision-making.
  • Objective 4: Establish a transdisciplinary hub of researchers and decision-makers that will investigate the interaction between demand for and supply of ecosystem service valuation evidence. These objectives will be addressed through a series of transdisciplinary workshops that will deliver a series of position papers and an agenda for future research.



A key output from the BRIDGE project was improved insights into the ways in which decision makers use scientific evidence. This information is extremely useful for both the scientific and decision making communities as it provides guidance to help them better target their resources to undertake more policy-relevant research.

In the long-term, the insights from the BRIDGE project will help to ensure that scientific research is more focused on policy impact, which in turn will help to better protect our natural environment.

Read the final report here


The team

Principal Investigator

Prof Mike Christie - Aberystwyth University

Project Mentors: 

Ian Bateman

Roy Haines Young


Jasper Kenter - University of Aberdeen

Project management

Mike Christie - Principle Investigator, Values lead, Aberystwyth University

Jasper Kenter - Project administrator and values co-lead, Universities of Aberdeen & St Andrews, Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability

Duncan Russel - Decisions lead, Exeter University

Core team

As above, plus:

Liz O'Brien - Forest Research
Andrew Church - University of Brighton
Ioan Fazey - University of St Andrews
Rob Fish - Exeter University
EJ Milner-Gulland - Imperial College London
Neal Hockley - Bangor University
Andrew Jordan - University of East Anglia

Decisions stream

Duncan Russel - University of Exeter
Andrew Jordan - University of East Anglia
Liz O’Brien - Forest Research
Bridget Emmett - Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
Neal Hockley - Bangor University
EJ Milner-Gulland - Imperial College London
Susan Page - University of Leicester
Rebecca Sayles - United Utilities / Cranfield University
John Turnpenny - University of East Anglia
Kerry Waylen - James Hutton Institute
Sue Williams - Countryside Council for Wales
Michael Winter - University of Exeter
Eva Zabey - World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD)

Values stream

Mike Christie - Aberystwyth University
Jasper Kenter - Universities of Aberdeen & St Andrews, Aberdeen Centre for Environmental Sustainability
Ioan Fazey - University of St Andrews
Liz O’Brien - Forest Research
Andrew Church - University of Brighton
Rob Fish - Exeter University
Neal Hockley - Bangor University
Keith Hyams - Exeter University
Katherine Irvine - De Montfort University
Susana Mourato - London School of Economics
Neil Ravenscroft - University of Brighton

Health & Wellbeing Call Launch Event

Videos and presentations from the Call Launch Event on 14 July 2015 are available below.

You can also see a Twitter based Storify summary of the event here.

This event was organised by the Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team and was held at the IET in Birmingham. Its purpose was to inform potential bidders about the call, to enable attendees to hear perpectives from the academic disciplines involved, and to hear from end users about their interests, and to provide an opportunity to ask funders questions directly.  There was also an opportunity for networking and to see (and add to) the offers of partnership, case studies, datasets, secondments which are also available here.

Videos and presentations

Placements 2016 - Joseph Kenworthy

Valuing coastal services: Stressor induced impacts, tipping points and societal wellbeing

Coastal sedimentary habitats support an array of economically valuable ecosystem services including regulatory functions such as carbon cycling or pollutant amelioration. In addition, the aesthetic value and health benefits of coastal systems are often ignored and/or under estimated. The provision of coastal services is under threat from both environmental and anthropogenic impacts that are likely to alter provisioning for the future. The purpose of this placement was to build upon my ecological knowledge to encompass aspects of ecosystem valuation and human health and consider how my own work on multiple stressors might impact ecosystem values, as alternate stable states are established after environmental tipping points are exceeded.

Further background from the Coastal Biodiversity and Ecosystem Service Sustainability (NERC CBESS) project will be invaluable. Without assigning values to system service flows it is impossible to fully understand the consequences of these changes to coastal ecosystems. These values can be related to policy, supporting decisions relating to the conservation and protection of exploited habitats. The vital communication between experts, ecologists and economist, will be promoted by individuals gaining first-hand knowledge across disciplines.

Placement information: 

End of placement presentation 

End of placement video (and shown below)

Link to blog  Environmental economics: a beginner’s tale

Starting placement presentation introducing placement ideas

Starting placement video 

End of placement video

Demystifying Economic Valuation Paper

New Publication:

Economic valuation of ecosystem goods and services: a review for decision makers


This 12 page paper covers the main issues, questions and principles surrounding economic valuation and is designed as an overview for those new to economic valuation.

DOWNLOAD Demystifying Economic Valuation Paper

Bringring together input from 120 volunteers from the economic valuation community, this paper provides a summary of agreed principles to help communication with other Valuing Nature research disciplines and users of economic value evidence.  

The editors are Ece Ozdemiroglu and Rosie Hails from the Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team.

Find out more about the process of developing the paper here



The paper covers the following topics:

  • Why economic valuation?
  • What is economic valuation?
  • How do we estimate economic value?
  • Whose values count?
  • How do we use economic values in decision making?
  • But economic values vary! And so they should!
  • How to communicate economic value evidence.



This paper is the first of the Valuing Nature “Demystifying….” Series, and was funded as part of the Valuing Nature Programme.  The five year, £6.5m Valuing Nature Programme aims to improve understanding of the value of nature both in economic and non-economic terms, and improve the use of these valuations in decision making.  To do this, the Valuing Nature Programme funds interdisciplinary research, and the Valuing Nature Network will build links between researchers and people who make decisions that affect nature in business, policy-making and in practice.

The Valuing Nature Programme is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

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