• University of Exeter

Valuing Nature: Should We Put a Price on Ecosystems?

Discover the many ways that we benefit from the natural world through ecosystem services.

8,882 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    2 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Explore how we value the natural world

There are many services that ecosystems provide that we never even consider, until we destroy them. Natural ecosystems help alleviate flooding, improve food security and protect our coastlines. Yet we consistently replace these ecosystems with manmade alternatives. If we put a price on nature, will it help us to protect these important ecosystems? And is it morally right to put a price on nature? Get answers with this course that uses an interdisciplinary approach to explore the ins and outs of how we value nature.

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  • Week 1

    Putting a Price on Nature

    • Introduction to Ecosystem Services

      Welcome to this 2-week course from the University of Exeter. To kick things off, Professor Tim Lenton introduces the concept of ‘ecosystem services’ and poses some of the big questions for you to consider.

    • Types of Ecosystem Services

      Now you know what an ecosystem service is, and what we mean by ‘valuing’ nature, let’s have a look at some of the different types of ecosystem services and the social benefits of the natural world.

    • Placing a value on an ecosystem

      So far, we’ve looked at the benefits of ecosystem services and how we place the value – but should we? In this activity, we’ll look at some of the key debates and moral arguments for and against putting a price on nature.

    • Summary and Reflect

      Round up the first week with a quick whizz through everything we’ve learned so far.

  • Week 2

    Ecosystem Services in Action

    • Regional Scale Services - South-West England

      Welcome to our home! In the first activity of this week, we’ll introduce you to how ecosystem services around the University of Exeter are helping to contribute to its economy. We’ll also ask how you can apply this to your place.

    • National Scale Services - Coral Reefs

      Coral Reefs are one of the most threatened ecosystems on the planet. But they are also one of the most valuable in terms of the ecosystem services they offer. How can we help protect them?

    • International Scale Services - REDD+

      Forests around the world are being destroyed for timber and to make space for agricultural land. Can international agreement in the form of REDD+ help conserve these ecosystems?

    • Assignment

      Bring everything you've learnt so far into this short assignment.

    • Summary and Reflect

      Let's bring everything together in the final steps of the course. How has your understanding of 'Valuing Nature' changed over the past 2 weeks?

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the concept of 'valuing nature’
  • Compare different types of services that ecosystems provide
  • Assess the moral and political dilemmas associated with valuing ecosystems
  • Apply your understanding of ecosystem services to peatlands, coral reefs and rainforests
  • Identify key ecosystem services in your place
  • Investigate the best ways to manage and preserve ecosystems and their services

Who is the course for?

This course is for anyone interested in nature and the environment, you don’t need any past experience.

Who will you learn with?

Professor Tim Lenton is Chair in Climate Change/Earth System Science at the University of Exeter. His research focuses on understanding the behaviour of the Earth as a whole system.

Senior Lecturer at The University of Exeter specialising in Glaciology, GIS and Remote Sensing
Educator on Climate Change: Challenges and Solutions
Find me on twitter @DamienMansell

Lecturer at Leeds University researching the impacts of climate change on our world

Course producer for University of Exeter Global Systems Institute


Who developed the course?

University of Exeter

The University of Exeter is a Russell Group university. It combines world-class research with very high levels of student satisfaction.

Endorsers and supporters

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Valuing Nature

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