What are shared and social values of ecosystems?
Social valuation of ecosystem services and public policy alternatives is one of the greatest challenges facing ecological economists today. Frameworks for valuing nature increasingly include shared/social values as a distinct category of values. However, the nature of shared/social values, as well as their relationship to other values, has not yet been clearly established and empirical evidence about the importance of shared/social values for valuation of ecosystem services is lacking. To help address these theoretical and empirical limitations, this paper outlines a framework of shared/social values across five dimensions: value concept, provider, intention, scale, and elicitation process. Along these dimensions we identify seven main, non-mutually exclusive types of shared values: transcendental, cultural/societal, communal, group, deliberated and other-regarding values, and value to society. Using a case study of a recent controversial policy on forest ownership in England, we conceptualise the dynamic interplay between shared/social and individual values. The way in which social value is assessed in neoclassical economics is discussed and critiqued, followed by consideration of the relation between shared/social values and Total Economic Value, and a review of deliberative and non-monetary methods for assessing shared/social values. We conclude with a discussion of the importance of shared/social values for decision-making.