BlueValue: The database

Kayaking in Ketchikan, AK. Photo by Kara Coffey

What does BlueValue mean to me? It means the benefit I receive from nature when doing the things I love most. And really, it’s also the things I rarely think about, such as trees providing oxygen for us to breathe. Shout out to nature for caring for us!

If you know me personally, and as you learn more about me through this blog, you’ll find that I love camping with my husband and our dogs, or walking my dogs down the beach, or fishing with family, or traveling and exploring the great outdoors! It is all those things and more that, to be honest, are so easy to take for granted.

When I really think about it, how much do I value these experiences? How much would I be willing to pay for the experience of camping with my family or kayaking in Alaska, beyond the cost of renting a campsite or equipment? What is my price tag on the connection to nature, to feel that peace or to be in awe of the incredible world we live in, when I hike up to a scenic lookout point? This connection and its value is where BlueValue comes into play!  

Humans benefit from a variety of products and services provided by the environment; these are called ecosystem services. These services could include storm protection, spirituality, recreation, food, and cultural heritage, just to name a few. The BlueValue tool – not to be confused with this blog – is a:

  • Searchable database of simplified and useful ecosystem valuation information.
  • Place to go to learn about the different ways to capture the importance or benefits of coastal and marine habitats.
  • One stop shop for the Gulf of Mexico and beyond for people interested in elucidating the benefit of natural habitats and impacts on human well-being.

The goal for the BlueValue tool is to help managers include ecosystem services in the decision-making process regarding coastal and marine environments. It allows for the distribution and sharing of information about ecosystem service valuation. Perhaps just as important, it can also help identify gaps in available ecosystem service literature.

Features on BlueValue:

  • Multiple ways to search via ecosystem service, habitat, country, state/province, or method.
  • Captures studies related to 29 various ecosystem services and 10 habitats.
  • Always updating with new and current studies to continue to be relevant and up to date.
  • Provides the ability to save and download search results via PDF or CSV.
  • Downloadable definitions and examples of ecosystem services, list of valuation methods, and definitions of each column in the results table. 

We hope this is useful to a wide variety of folks around the Gulf of Mexico and beyond! Academic scientists, agency scientists, resource managers, decision-makers, NGOs, interested citizens, and many others can make use of this tool, though it’s not limited to those audiences. If you are a teacher and would like to use this tool to assign a class project, stay tuned for a future blog with a potential lesson plan or guidance for high school project! Researchers could search for information about a variety of different study sites to be used in value transfer methods, or identify areas in which new primary studies are lacking, which could justify the need for funding. Managers could use this tool to provide themselves with values to inform their decision-making process.

So how do you use BlueValue?

  1. Go to www.bluevalue.org
  2. Click on the Search the Database button.
  3. Enter your search terms.
  4. Review the list of results.
  5. Download the literature you need, cite the science, bring the information to your next planning meeting, and share the knowledge with others.

OR you can download this handy one pager with instructions:

For more information, check out the site www.bluevalue.org and our press release. If you have any questions about this tool, please contact Kara Coffey at kara.coffey@tamucc.edu or use the Contact Page.


Ecosystem services infographic from bluevalue.org

Author: Kara Coffey

Kara Coffey is the Research Associate for the Socio-Economics Group at the Harte Research Institute. Her work addresses the connection between the socio-behavioral-economic and ecological systems in the Gulf of Mexico. Kara received a Bachelor of Science in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences at Texas A&M University and a Master of Science in Environmental Sciences at Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, where she emphasized in Social and Environmental Impacts. Her research project was “Gulf of Mexico Red Tide Events: Public Perceptions of Risk and Communication”. Prior to joining the Harte Research Institute, Kara worked at AmeriCorps’ Texas Conservation Corps as a Youth Crew Leader where she led current high school students and recent high school graduates on conservation projects, such as working on trail improvement and habitat restoration projects, and focused on building conservation skills and engaging in environmental education.