|Approach to value||Worldviews||Types of values||Scale||Conflict||Skills & effort|
|Usually a numerical amount denoted by a magnitude, quantity, or number.||Mostly western worldviews||Intrinsic
|Local to global||Not addressed||Specialized technical knowledge|
In the biophysical domain, the word value is often used to mean a numerical amount denoted by a magnitude, quantity, or number and it has also been used to link to the notion of ecological valuation with allegedly objective biophysical measurements of ecological impacts from human activity.
Biophysical valuation methods have been used to calculate physical ‘costs’ (e.g. in time, energy, materials, land surface, etc.) and levels of pressure of human activity on ecosystems. Biophysical approaches assess value based on the intrinsic properties of objects by measuring underlying physical parameters.
The scientific literature has used the notions of ‘ecological values’ and ‘ecological valuation’ in reference to aspects ranging from the intrinsic values of species to conservation values, and values associated with ecosystem integrity, resilience, stability and productivity. Despite the multiple meanings, the literature on ecological values generally aims at examining the ecological importance of attributes, qualities, and quantities characterizing nature’s condition and functioning.
In ecology and conservation science the concept of valuation has traditionally been approached trough a biocentric perspective, covering measures on the integrity of the biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems – irrespective of their instrumental value for humans -. Moreover, biocultural diversity measures have been developed and applied in different contexts.
In the ecosystem services literature, values can measure the ecological health and integrity of an ecosystem and its capacity to perform regulation and habitat functions. They can also be used to measure ecosystem services in biophysical units. Measures may include the amount of ecosystem services that can potentially be supplied or that are actually delivered to users, as well to assess positive and negative interactions among ecosystem services independently or in bundles.
Moreover the insurance value relates to the importance we attribute to ecosystem resilience and it refers to the role of biodiversity and ecological infrastructure in securing ecosystem capacity to deliver sustained flows of ecosystem services in the face of disturbance and change. In everyday practice, the status of critical ecological infrastructure and related insurance value may be recognized by applying the precautionary principle and setting safe minimum standards or boundaries. Regime shift analysis and assessment of ecological thresholds can be used to address the level of threat of insurance values. Insurance values can also be elicited using economic methods.
Biophysical approaches to valuation, especially those focused on measures, have been criticized for having a weak conceptual basis and relying strongly on implicit assumptions.