The UK National Ecosystem Assessment Follow-on. Work package Report 6: shared, plural and cultural values of ecosystems

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Kenter, J.; Reed, M.; Irvine, K.; O'Brien, L.; Brady, E.; Bryce, R.; Christie, M.; Church, A.; Cooper, N.; Davies, A.; Evely, A.; Everard, M.; Fazey, I.; Hockley, N.; Jobstvogt, N.; Molloy, C.; Orchard-Webb, J.; Ravenscroft, N.; Ryan, M.; Watson, V. (2014). The UK National Ecosystem Assessment Follow-on. Work package Report 6: shared, plural and cultural values of ecosystems. Report by University of Aberdeen, Birmingham City University, James Hutton Institute, De Montfort University, Forest Research - Alice Holt Lodge, University of Edinburgh, Aberystwyth University, University of Brighton, Anglia Ruskin University (ARU), Church of England - Diocese of Ely, University of St Andrews, Project Maya, University of Dundee, Bangor University, and Edge Hill University. pp 272.

The UK National Ecosystem Assessment Follow-on Work Package on Shared, Plural and Cultural Values (UK NEAFO WP5) report consists of the following main documents:

  • The full report
  • A summary to the full report
  • A handbook for decision-makers, analysts and practitioners

The summary and full reports both start off with a set of key findings. The summary key findings can be read as an executive summary. The full key findings provide more detailed conclusions and an overview of the evidence that supports each of the findings, with reference to the report sections where one can find further detail. The summary and full report apply the same section headings and numbering. This facilitates using the documents side-by-side, allowing the reader to dip in and out of the full report where he or she is interested in greater depth or wants to look up references. The handbook provides a brief explanation of what shared, plural and cultural values are and why they are important to national and local government, business, NGOs, policy-analysts and practitioners. It provides an overview of methods for assessing shared, plural and cultural values and incorporating them into decisions, with short examples and case studies. In addition to these three documents, WP5 has also produced an interim report titled The value of potential marine protected areas in the UK to divers and sea anglers, which can be read independently or as supporting material for the marine protected areas case study in Section 4.4.


10 findings of this report:

  • Finding 1: Shared values resulting from deliberative, group-based valuation are different from individual values. Case study evidence suggests that they are more informed, considered, confident and reflective of participants’ deeper-held, transcendental values.
  • Finding 2: The ethical, moral and justice dimensions of many environmental issues necessitate approaches that allow for the elicitation of shared and plural values.
  • Finding 3: Catalyst and/or conflict points can play a key role in the emergence and articulation of values at a societal or community level that have not previously been outwardly or explicitly articulated.
  • Finding 4: There is a diversity of ways in which shared, plural, cultural and social values are used, but they are rarely conceptualised.
  • Finding 5: Shared and social values in the sense of value to society is conceptualised very differently by conventional economics and other disciplines.
  • Finding 6: A mixed method approach is required to elicit the multiple dimensions of shared values and to translate deeper-held, transcendental values into contextual values and preferences.
  • Finding 7: Deliberative and social learning processes help people to understand the values held by others; they can lead to increased sharing of values and/or to greater acceptance of the decisions emerging from such processes.
  • Finding 8: Media analysis is a promising avenue for characterising different types of shared values at a large scale, as well as assessing the conflicts between the communal values of different sectors of society.
  • Finding 9: Aesthetic and spiritual values of ecosystems have a strong non-instrumental component. While they benefit human well-being, they should not simply be classified as just ‘services’ or ‘benefits'.
  • Finding 10: Subjective well-being measures provide a useful means of assessing ‘intangible’ cultural ecosystem services and their benefits.
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