Ecosystem services research has been focused on the ways that humans directly benefit from goods and services, and economic valuation techniques have been used to measure those benefits. We argue that, although it is appropriate in some cases, this focus on direct use and economic quantification is often limiting and can detract from environmental research and effective management, in part by crowding out other understandings of human—environment relationships. Instead, we make the case that the systematic consideration of multiple metaphors of such relationships in assessing social—ecological systems will foster better understanding of the many ways in which humans relate to, care for, and value ecosystems. Where it is possible, we encourage a deliberative approach to ecosystem management whereby ecosystem researchers actively engage conservationists and local resource users to make explicit, through open deliberation, the types of metaphors salient to their conservation problem.
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Vol. 63 • No. 7