EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB)

Web-accessible materials on ecological valuation developed by or for the SAB Committee on Valuing the Protection of Ecological Systems and Services (C-VPESS)

Methods and approaches potentially useful in the ecological valuation process

The SAB Web site provides descriptions of methods and approaches prepared by members of the C-VPESS as resources for the committee and others interested in ecological valuation. Methods are described with specific reference to how they might be used by the EPA for valuing the protection of ecological systems and services within the valuation approach recommended by the committee. Some of the methods have already been used extensively in EPA policy and decision making. Some appear never or only rarely to have been used by the Agency, but are widely used by other agencies. Some are less proven in policy making contexts and should be considered experimental. All of the methods described have both conceptual and practical strengths and limitations.

The descriptions of these methods and approaches and of their utility for ecological valuation at EPA do not represent the consensus views of the committee, nor have they been reviewed and approved by the chartered Science Advisory Board. They are offered to extend and elaborate the very brief descriptions provided in chapter 4 of the main report and to encourage further deliberation within EPA and the broader scientific community about how to meet the need for an integrated and expanded approach for valuing the protection of ecological systems and services. 

The descriptions provide suggestions for further reading, potential applications of the methods, and future research opportunities. The descriptions of specific methods and approaches are supplemented by a discussion of the use of survey techniques employed in some valuation methods.

Members of the C-VPESS do agree that EPA should carefully characterize and, when possible, quantify and value the responses of ecological systems and services to EPA actions. They agree that a wider range of valuation methods can play a potential role throughout the expanded and integrated valuation process the committee envisions.

An expanded suite of valuation methods could allow EPA to better capture the full range of contributions stemming from ecosystem protection and the multiple types of value derived from ecosystems. At the same time, it is mportant to recognize that different methods may measure different values and thus not be additive or comparable. Even when the Agency is required or chooses to base its valuation assessment on economic values, however, use of additional methods may be useful in supporting, improving, or extending the valuation.

The descriptions of methods and approaches generally include the following kinds of information:

  • Brief description of the method
  • Status of the method, strengths, and limitations
  • Treatment of uncertainty
  • Research needs
  • Key references

Description of methods and approaches:

  • Measures of attitudes, preferences, and intentions (PDF, 37 pp., 333.2 kb, About PDF Files)         
    • Surveys of attitudes, preferences, and intentions
    • Focus groups
    • Individual narratives
      • Mental model approaches
    • Emerging methods
  • Economic methods (PDF, 5 pp., 26 kb, About PDF Files)
  • Civic valuation (PDF, 2 pp., 16 kb, About PDF Files) 
  • Decision science methods (PDF, 1 pp., 12 kb, About PDF Files)
  • Ecosystem benefit indicators (PDF, 9 pp., 44 kb, About PDF Files)    
  • Biophysical ranking methods (PDF, 1 p., 12 kb, About PDF Files)
  • Methods using cost as a proxy for value (PDF, 2 pp., 13 kb, About PDF Files)           
  • Deliberative processes (PDF, 1 pp., 12 kb, About PDF Files)             
  • Survey issues for ecological valuation: Current best practices and recommendations for research (PDF, 28 pp., 112 kb, About PDF Files)

                This document provides an introduction for EPA staff to questions posed to the C-VPESS pertaining to survey use for ecological valuation. It gives an overview of how recent research and evolving practice relating to those questions might assist the Agency. The document provides a definition of survey research, discusses survey design, identifies elements of a well-designed survey, addresses assessment of survey accuracy, and discusses challenges in using surveys for ecosystem protection valuation.

    Science Advisory Board workshop summary: Science for valuation of EPA's ecological protection decisions and programs.  Summary of workshop held December 13-14, 2005, Washington, DC (PDF, 135 pp., 5322 kb, About PDF Files)

    This document summarizes a public workshop held on December 13-14, 2005, in Washington, D.C., on "Science for valuation of EPA's ecological protection decisions and programs." The purpose of the workshop was to discuss the initial work of the SAB's C-VPESS; to provide an opportunity for members of the SAB, the Advisory Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis, and Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee to learn from each others' work relating to ecological valuation; and to feature feedback and insights from Agency clients and outside subject matter experts. The agenda included presentations and discussions with advisory committee members, Agency personnel, and invited experts.