This paper is based on the session ‘Ecosystem services: a useful concept for soil policy making?’ at the Wageningen Applied Soil Conference in September 2011. In that session it was shown from different angles that policy awareness of the dependence of humankind on ecosystem services has resulted in the development of tools for optimal allocation and quantification of ecosystem services and raising awareness to stakeholders and decision makers. A number of case studies provided practical applications of developed tools that show how an ecosystem services approach can work as a way to value ecosystems. The use of ecosystem services may lead to mitigation of soil degradation and at the same time increase production of services both to private land owners as well as to the society as common goods. In our opinion the results available to date show that quantifying the benefits of ecosystems is a way to support the positive view stated in the title and we encourage the development of decision support tools based on more extensive yet user friendly integrated approaches of resource management, sector planning, and priority setting in the near future.