What is something worth? How do you put a dollar value on something like a river, a forest or a reef? When one report announces that the Great Barrier Reef is worth A$56 billion, and another that it’s effectively priceless, what does it mean and can they be reconciled? This contrast points to fundamentally different notions of value. Environmental accounting is a way of recognising and comparing multiple sources of value, in order to better weigh competing priorities in resource management. In practice it is sometimes crude, but it’s been standardised internationally and its scope is expanding to include social, cultural, and intrinsic benefits.