Towards a comprehensive valuation of natural capital in Germany: Methods and approaches to deal with limited information and uncertainty

Project period: 2020 – 2024


Project background and motivation:

Biodiversity and natural capital contribute fundamentally to human well-being. So far, societal decision-making only partly takes these values into account. One major reason are large information gaps and uncertainties. The few existing original valuation studies have not been systematically selected, typically consider only a subset of values, and treat ecological-economic dynamics and uncertainties only implicitly. ValuGaps responds to the need for comprehensive, reliable, and scalable values of natural capital and biodiversity for societal decision-making, as experienced by public authorities in Germany, especially the German Environment Agency (UBA) and the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (BfN). Thereby, ValuGaps considers multi-dimensional economic, relational, and health values of biodiversity and natural capital.


ValuGaps addresses the following questions:

  1. Where do societal decision-makers and stakeholders face the largest information gaps and uncertainties with respect to different values of biodiversity and natural capital? 
  2. How to scale, transfer, and bridge different types of values across (i) space and time, (ii) groups of beneficiaries, and (iii) types of ecosystems in a practical, scientifically and normatively sound way? By means of integrated ecological-economic modelling, behavioural experiments, and surveys, we specifically ask
    1. What are the key parameters required to value natural capital in a scalable and transferable way, and how can their values be quantified or constrained?
    2. How do uncertainties propagate when scaling, transferring or bridging values?
  3. How can societal decision-makers make best use of valuation, and how do and how should they deal with uncertainties?


Project aims:

ValuGaps will develop the interdisciplinary scientific basis for comprehensively taking into account natural capital values in policy making, accounting and planning. The approach will be exemplified and tested for grasslands as the prime case study, and for smaller case studies on temperate forests, marine fish and urban green space. As a transdisciplinary project where scientists closely cooperate with the key federal agencies in the domain, UBA and BfN, and by establishing a reference-stakeholder network, ValuGaps will significantly contribute to mainstreaming the value of biodiversity in decision-making, a political commitment under the CBD Aichi Target 2.


Project consortium:

  • Prof. Martin Quaas (Coordinator), Dr. Jasper Meya, Prof. Aletta Bonn, Dr. Melissa Marselle, German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Researcch (iDIV) Halle-Jena-Leipzig, Research group of Biodiversity Economics
  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Baumgärtner, University of Freiburg (ALU), Professorship of Environmental Economics and Resource Management
  • Prof. Dr. Moritz Drupp, University of Hamburg (UHH), Junior Professorship of Economics, esp. environmental economics
  • Prof Dr. Britta Tietjen, University of Berlin (FU), Professorship of Theoretical Ecology
  • Beyhan Ekinci, Dr. Burkhard Schweppe-Kraft, Bundesamt für Naturschutz (BfN)
  • Dr. Astrid Matthey, Dr. Björn Bünger, Umweltbundesamt (UBA)



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