This Section includes:

Part I

Introduction to Relative Ecosystem Valuation

Steps in Developing Relative Value Indicators

Three Illustrations of Relative Ecosystem Value

Part II

Types of Indicators


Food for Thought


Relative Indicators of Ecosystem Value


This section provides insights into how to value an environmental asset, such as a wetland or forested buffer, or a conservation practice, such as a proposed wetland restoration or reforestation project, in terms of their relative value. The question that was the focus of the previous section dealing with absolute measures of value was: What is the dollar value of X or Y? The question that is the focus in this section is: Is the value of X greater or less than the value of Y?

Showing that the environmental benefits from spending on one project are greater than the benefits of spending on another project is much easier than estimating the dollar benefits of either project.  It is easier to justify that spending is being managed to “maximize environmental benefits” per dollar spent than to justify any particular level of dollar spending.


This section is a "work in progress." It provides guidance about developing practical and defensible indicators of relative ecosystem value that can be used to compare environmental conservation alternatives.  However, it doe not provide definitive sets of indicators that can be used for this purpose. 

The section has two parts: The first describes the steps required to develop indicators and provides illustrations of situations where they can be used to improve conservation management. The second provides background information and examines concepts and tools that will be useful for designing indicator systems.  Each part will be interesting to a different audience.  Those interested in understanding the focus of value-based indicators and how they can be put into practice may only wish to browse Part 1.  Those interested in the more abstract and technical aspects of developing value-based indicators may wish to dig further by browsing Part 2. Both parts will be expanded and imroved as resources become available.


Part 1 Indicator Development Basics

Introduction to Relative Ecosystem Values
Step to Focus and Develop Relative Value Indicators
Three Illustrations of Relative Ecosystem Value

Part 2 Concepts, Definitions and Food for Thought

Types of Indicators
Food for Thought