I will start this essay by explaining some of the different concepts that are involved and different views on the intrinsic valuation of nature. Why economic valuations are necessary, some different views on valuations and for what they are used, what we understand by public and private goods, commons, and the cost benefit analysis. I will follow with a brief outline regarding the concept of the all affected principle, discuss some of the disadvantages of economic valuations, and conclude with my belief that although far from perfect, economic valuations are necessary. We must not forget that economic values are not the same as intrinsic values. There is value 'in' things and values 'of' things. Economic valuations are instrumental valuations by humans. Each person has his own values, social, cultural and moral, making it problematic to 'price' nature. The fact the subject is so interdisciplinary in nature and includes ecology, environment, economics, philosophy and politics, causes no little confusion. To date there is no hard economic currency that translates to the intrinsic value of nature, or the value of nature 'in and of itself'.
The purpose of an economic valuation is to show the 'correct' cost of using environmental resources and is used to aid decision-making. However, in order to create an economic valuation we need values. Those values are what the public is willing to pay for something that may benefit or help avoid future costs. Values can be a discussion on its own, but suffice to say that personal values whether derived from culture, tradition, or a moral or social standpoint are subjective, and as such are difficult to mould into a cohesive environmental unit. The environmental economist will value goods and services based on instrumental values, or valuations of the environment for humans (OU) and the environmental ethicist will value ecosystems and habitats.