Policy paper

An introductory guide to valuing ecosystem services

This publication was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Ecosystem services are defined as services provided by the natural environment that benefit people.



The aim of this Guide is to provide an introduction to the valuation of ecosystem services. It builds on previous approaches to valuing the environment but takes a more systematic approach to the assessment of impacts on the natural environment. The central theme of this work is to ensure that the true value of ecosystems and the services provided are taken into account in policy decision-making.

This Guide is a first step towards Defra’s aim to embed impacts on the natural environment in decision-making. It is purposely ‘introductory’, recognising that further testing and development is needed to operationalise this approach in policy appraisal across government.