The Environmental Liability Directive (ELD) establishes a framework of liability based on the 'polluter-pays' principle to prevent and remedy environmental damage. The ELD requires the testing of appropriate equivalency methods to assess the scale of compensatory measures needed to offset damage. The aim of this paper is to contribute to fill the existing knowledge gap on the application of the value equivalency approach for damage compensation in this context. We analyze the toxic spill damaging the Doñana National Park (Spain) in 1998. The welfare losses associated with the resource damage are estimated using non-market valuation and compared to the value of the compensatory measures taken after the accident. Our results show that the in-kind compensation may have been insufficient to offset the welfare losses. We conclude that a more comprehensive knowledge of the human welfare effects caused by environmental damage is of substantial importance to determine compensatory remediation, as insufficient information in this respect can lead to erroneous decisions causing loss to society. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.