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The many values of nature

Fauna & Flora recognises that the diverse elements of nature are valued by people in a multitude of ways. Some iconic and rare species or habitats are highly regarded for their intrinsic and aesthetic value, or for the opportunities they provide for recreation. Many people believe it is our obligation to preserve a healthy, diverse natural environment for the benefit of future generations. Economists – and poor rural communities – tend to emphasise the values we derive from directly using natural resources for our basic needs of food, fuel, shelter, clean water and so on.

Nature and landscapes often possess powerful cultural meaning for indigenous peoples. To support conservation organisations to better understand and take cultural values into account in their initiatives, Fauna & Flora has produced some Guidance for the Rapid Assessment of Cultural Ecosystem Services.

In practice, different people value many aspects of wildlife and landscapes in a variety of ways at the same time. How they balance the importance of these different values can also change over time and depending on their circumstances. Therefore, to empower people to care for nature and use natural resources sustainably, we need to appreciate and respect these multiple values and – where they conflict – help negotiate the trade-offs between them.