We draw on a number of empirical studies undertaken in the UK to show how residents and farmers come to contest scientific approaches to valuing nature as the basis for adjudicating conflicts over protected natural areas. The findings of these studies suggest that a widening of the knowledge base on which the goals and practices of nature conservation are founded, and a more deliberative process of decision making about what nature is important locally, is required if effective conservation partnerships are to be sustained. We offer a common good approach to valuing nature as a means of addressing this problem. A common good approach is based on ethical and moral concerns about nature and expresses these values through a social and political process of consensus building. We illustrate how this common good approach can be used to prioritise issues in a Local Environment Agency Plan. When linked with a method of Stakeholder Decision Analysis this common good approach is capable of building coalitions and a measure of consensus between different interests. It achieves this through a transparent and deliberate process of debate and systematic analysis of values that makes explicit the foundation of different knowledge claims about nature.