Environmental problems in general and biodiversity loss and degradation in particular are related to the failure of markets to properly value environmental services and regulate their use. Valuation methods are thus needed to assist policy makers in identifying priorities and evaluating trade-offs. The publication Valuation of Biodiversity Benefits: Selected Studies was intended to present the policy relevance of valuation techniques as applied to environmental policy making.
The importance of valuation has been widely understood in academia - and has been influential insome areas of environmental policy - but has been slow to be applied in biodiversity. Recently, however, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), through the Conference of the Parties (COP), recognised that ¨economic valuation of biodiversity and biological resources is an important tool for well-targeted and calibrated economic incentive measures¨. Furthermore, it encouraged the Parties to ¨take into account economic, social, cultural and ethical valuation in the development of relevant incentive measures¨ (CBD COP Decision IV/10).
However, the menu of valuation techniques is vast. It draws on several disciplines, with economics playing a major role. The Handbook of Biodiversity Valuation: A Guide For Policymakers is concerned with a particular aspect of that work: the ways in which value can be attached to biodiversity and, in particular, with the procedures and results of applying economic values. Since many problems in biodiversity do not lend themselves to market solutions, for completeness, non-economic procedures are also discussed - including the advantages and disadvantages of different approaches. The primary aim is to provide a convenient and pragmatic reference source to guide decision-makers and practitioners in the process of thinking about values in the context of biodiversity conservation and its sustainable use. The Handbook can be used to distinguish between types of value and their practical relevance to questions concerning biodiversity. It can also be used as a guide to the wider debate about how to value diversity and to some of the research that continues into the subject. Member countries contributed a number of case studies, which underpinned the relevance of the techniques outlined.