It is widely recognised that people depend on the natural environment for a variety of benefits to their well being. These dependencies encompass access to a range of ecosystem services, from utilising basic resources for living - clean water, food, fertile soil- to interactions with nature that affirm and enrich our place in the world - places to recreate, play and take wonder in life.
Valuing Nature and its programme of research provides a venue in which researchers, policy makers and practitioners can explore how better to take account of these benefits within decision making. It starts from the premise that the values we hold for nature are too often obscured in the way priorities within decision making are assigned, be that in the policies we form, through the business we grow, and in the decisions we make as economic agents and members of communities. History offers us plenty of lessons that suggest the natural environment is treated as a free resource. There is a need to make better the case that the natural environment matters when it comes to making decisions.
The initial phase of the Valuing Nature Network has already provided a surer footing by which to expand our understanding of the analytical, conceptual and empirical basis of valuation instruments to guide decision making. It has also made the case for paying due regard to the wider social, cultural and historical context in which values cohere around the natural environment and the decisions we make about it. This means recognising that the valuation of nature does not stand or fall on an economic viewpoint alone. It means developing ways in which the plurality of values people hold for the natural environment are presented and advocated for in terms that capture their many and diverse expressions: this is a valuation world that accounts for nature in both monetary and non monetary, and quantitative and qualitative terms. Recognising and developing ways in which different approaches to valuation can be harnessed as a mutually reinforcing basis for informed decision making drives this network and its programme forward in its work.