Policy paper

An introductory guide to valuing ecosystem services

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

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


An introductory guide to valuing ecosystem services

Request an accessible format.
If you use assistive technology (such as a screen reader) and need a version of this document in a more accessible format, please email defra.helpline@defra.gov.uk. Please tell us what format you need. It will help us if you say what assistive technology you use.


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.

Published 28 March 2011