Our database

There is more to our Ecosystem Services Valuation Database than you might think. This page delves deeper into the database, its structure and its content, aiming to provide some guidance on how to use and how not to use the ESVD. This is very important information - we recommend carefully reading this page before diving into ESVD data.

Schermafbeelding 2021-09-28 162445.jpg
Image by Dan Meyers

Diving into the database

Structure of the database

The ESVD organises its value estimates and corresponding data in 106 columns with information on among others: bibliographic details, study site, biome, ecosystem service, valuation method, valuation result in original units, standardised value and review status.

Classification of ecosystem services:

Ecosystem services are classified using the TEEB and CICES classifications. Under this assignment, the SEEA classification has been added using a conversion table linking the TEEB sub-service codes and SEEA service codes. However, the SEEA classification is not yet integrated in the online interface.

Classification of biomes and ecosystems:

Study sites are classified in the ESVD into 15 biomes and 84 ecosystem types. Study sites can stretch over multiple biomes and ecosystems.

Different contexts, different values

Not all value estimates in the ESVD fit with the context of your work or research. We understand that different ecosystems provide different services in different amounts. A forest in Sweden is incomparable to a forest in the Brazilian rainforest.

Therefore, the database allows for location-specific data, fitting virtually every possible context. You can search for your specific context, using the filters in the ESVD.

For example, if you are looking for a monetary valuation of a tropical forest for a specific Colombian mangrove, make sure you filter the dataset to the context most fitting to your context.

Some data shows negative values, i.e. a disservice. This interpretation means that in some cases, certain ecosystems decrease certain ecosystem services.

Summary statistics

Where possible, value records are standardised to a common set of units (International dollars/hectare/year in 2020 price levels) based on the combination of a biome and an ecosystem service.

Some value records cannot be standardised to a common set of units due to missing information but can nevertheless contain useful information for users. For this reason, some search results may contain data, but do not contain standardised values. Only the values which can be standardized are used for the summary statistics.

The summary statistics can be understood as the average of all standardized values for a combination of a biome and an ecosystem service. A summary value reflects the availability of valuation studies, the interests of funding organizations, and the thematic expertise of the researchers involved.

Note that the summary of values are used for illustrative purposes, only to provide an impression of the order of magnitude of the values obtained from the literature and to identify data gaps. It is not advised to use general summary statistics for value transfers since the summary statistics reflect the underlying ecological and socio-economic contexts of diverse (but not necessarily representative) study sites.



An ever-changing database

The data in the ESVD is ever-changing.

New data updates and therefore new records in the database are one of the reasons for this. In addition, the data is under an ongoing external review process to check that the interpretation and coding of study results are correct. Not all data has been reviewed yet. The review status of each value record is indicated in the dataset.

We are in the process of setting up biome review groups to create an efficient and continuous review process.

Since ESVD data is subject to updates and reviewing, all data, including the summary statistics, will change over time based on new insights.

Do you want to participate in the external reviewing process?

Email us at esvd@fsd.nl.

Image by Michael Olsen

How to use the ESVD

Example: Summary statistics

Let’s take the example of the biome 'Tropical forests'.

Tropical forests provide various different ecosystem services, such as climate regulation, raw materials and air quality regulation, and much research has been valuating these benefits. Because of various reasons, ESVD includes many value estimates on tropical forests.


Browsing ESVD shows that there are over 90 studies analyzed on Tropical forests, mainly in different contexts in Asia (390+ value estimates) and South-America (350+ value estimates), but also for the African continent (170+ value estimates). ESVD includes over 1000 tropical forests service values of which about 474 could be standarized in 2020 dollars per hectare per year.


After having created a summary table, the following can be observed:


By hovering over the summary values, the number in brackets refers to the you can see that the most of the standardized ecosystem service values are calculated for food, raw materials and recreation. The highest values are for moderation of extreme events and recreation. In total, the monetary benefits of a mangrove ecosystem add up to a staggering $8,600 per hectare per year. This summary value excludes the existence value of tropical forests, which is valued over $1 billion dollars per hectare per year in the ESVD, showing the enormous values some studies provide. However, the summary value shows that tropical forests are extremely valuable for societies and that we should be incentivizing their conservation. This readily-available and standardized information provides clear inisghts in the enormous value of tropical forests and can help policy-makers and financial institutions to develop economic instruments to protect them.

Note that the summary values might sometimes be an under- or overestimation of the 'real value' and should be used with great care. Also, because the ESVD is continuously updated, the summary statistics will change.

Example: Finding useful values

Let’s stick with the example of mangroves.

The benefit of ESVD is its numbers.

As there are over 410 different monetary value estimates for all important tropical forest ecosystem services, it is possible to look for values which suit your situation best.

For your valuation context, you might focus on a specific tropical forest context in a specific country or region. As different socio-economic contexts reap different results, it would be best if the data you are looking for reflects these contexts very closely. By downloading the database you can examine the database in great detail. It allows for filtering the data for biomes, ecosystem services, valuation method, valuation result in original units, beneficiaries, standardized value and review status.

If you are looking for a tropical forest context in Brazil for the ecosystem service of food provisioning, there are 19 value estimates (as of this moment) which might suit your needs.

So explore the database and make nature count!

Image by Jeremy Bezanger


To use the ESVD you can register for a free account. By signing up, you are indicating agreement with the Terms of Use specified on the right. When you make an account, you have to log in with your username, not with your emailadres.

You can search the ESVD on the ESVD-interface using a set of drop-down lists and/or free text search. Here you can view your search results, generate summary statistics, and download data. See the screenshot of the database for more information on the functionalities of the ESVD.

You can suggest a study to be added to the ESVD using the “Suggest a Study” page. Suggested studies will be added to the repository of valuation studies to be analysed, entered into the database, reviewed and shared through the ESVD.

Keep in mind, the ESVD web-interface is not hosted by this website, please click the button below to go to the ESVD.

Terms of use

We allow use for non-commercial, research and educational purposes aimed at supporting more sustainable ecosystem management and policy making.

Reports using the ESVD should be made publicly available and use correct citation (Foundation for Sustainable Development (2021). Ecosystem Services Valuation Database 1.0, [download date], https://esvd.net).

In no event will the Foundation for Sustainable Development, their affiliates, agents or collaborators be liable for any damages; including without limitation, direct or indirect, special or incidental, moral or consequential, arising in connection with your use of the ESVD, its information or derivatives of the ESVD.