||A generic term for assessments which attempt to decide either the value (physical, economic or perceptual) of a resource, or the consequences and adequacy of resource management strategies. Generalizing, the concept has been applied to five main areas of work:
Ascertaining the quantity and quality of resource supplies. This includes both renewable and non-renewable natural resources, and identifying the \'recoverable\' resources, i.e. those that are potentially economically feasible to extract given physical conditions and levels of technology. The availability of resources is dynamic, depending upon past use patterns and investment or conservation decisions.
Ascertaining the value of a resource. Value may include actual use value (the current benefits derived from using a particular resource), option value (anticipation of benefits derived from potential future use, which is influenced by factors such as technological change and a decline in the availability of substitutes) and intrinsic value (see environmentalism). These values may be decided by market prices, set government prices, opportunity costs, labour value (cf. Marxian economics), social indicators, energy accounting, public preferences and ecological (intrinsic) values (see environmental perception; welfare geography). Work by Pearce (1994) highlights some issues in the so-called \'environmental values debate\'.
Ascertaining the capacity of ecosystems to support human life and development over time (see sustainable development). This includes the carrying capacity of land and water, the assimilative capacity of land, water and air to assimilate wastes (see pollution) and the \'ecological footprint\' of the population (see Wackernagel and Rees, 1996).
Assessing the likely consequences of proposed resource programmes, projects, policies and administrative changes (see cost-benefit analysis; environmental audit; environmental impact assessment).
Assessing the adequacy and/or effectiveness of existing resource management strategies. The evaluation criteria used are crucial to the results of any assessment. Possible criteria for evaluation may include meeting stated policy objectives, economic efficiency, equity of distribution of resources and benefits, employment generation, creating wider accessibility to a region, or achieving sustainable development.Â (PM)
References and Suggested Reading Pearce, D. 1994: The great environmental values debate. Environment and Planning A 26: 1329-38.Â Wackernagel, M. and Rees, W. 1996: Our ecological footprint: reducing human impact on the earth. Gabriola Island, British Columbia: New Society Publishers.