Finance CEOs launch Natural Capital Declaration at Rio+20

21 June 2012

Thirty-seven CEOs in the finance sector announced their commitment to integrate natural capital considerations into their products and services in the “Natural Capital Declaration”. The Declaration was launched during the Global Compact Corporate Sustainability Forum, held on the sidelines of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD, or Rio+20). The Declaration is co-convened by the UN Environment Programme Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), the Global Canopy Programme and the Center for Sustainability Studies of the Getulio Vargas Foundation. It recognizes the role of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the global economy, outlines financial sector commitments and recommends action by policymakers.
Read more on the Natural Capital Declaration website.

Exploring the linkages between health and biodiversity, climate change and desertification

12 June 2012

The World Health Organization (WHO) has published a discussion paper on the linkages between health and biodiversity, climate change and desertification, the representation of health in the three Rio Conventions, and the opportunities for more integrated and effective policy.
Read more and download the publication: Our Planet, Our Health, Our Future - Human health and the Rio Conventions: biological diversity, climate change and desertification.

New members wanted for Defra's Darwin Expert Committee

1 June 2012

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is currently looking for 8 new members for its Darwin Expert Committee. This is a Committee made up of independent experts which advises Ministers on funding proposals received under its Darwin Initiative.
Defra are particularly seeking individuals who have good knowledge of the links between biodiversity and development and knowledge of or experience in projects delivering both biodiversity, livelihood and economic benefits.
This expertise should also ideally be supplemented by knowledge and experience in one or more of the following areas:

  • Implementation of biodiversity commitments in key MEAs (CBD, CITES and CMS)
  • Environmental Law
  • Business & economics
  • Ecosystem-approach and ecosystem services expertise;
  • Biodiversity-related scientific or academic research;
  • New carbon markets (REDD and PES);
  • Biodiversity issues in the UK’s Overseas Territories

Applicants from a wide range of backgrounds will be considered including private sector, scientific, academic and professional institutions and non-governmental organisations.
For more details please see the information pack on the Defra Public Appointments page. The deadline for applications is noon on Friday 22 June 2012 with appointments to commence on 20 August 2012.

New Ecosystems Knowledge Network website launched today

23 May 2012

The Ecosystems Knowledge Network website is now online at The site provides a gateway to information and tools that help in understanding and applying an ecosystems approach. It includes:

  • Video clips offering perspectives on an ecosystem approach
  • Examples of projects that are reflecting an ecosystems approach
  • Links to tools and guidelines around the application of the approach
  • Details of upcoming activities

More learning materials and resources will be added to the website over the coming months. The Network team welcomes suggestions for additional resources to inform people about the application of an ecosystems approach. Visit Ecosystems Knowledge Network website.

TEEB Conference 2012 videos are now available online

23 May 2012

Videos of several plenaries from the TEEB conference, organized by UFZ, which took place from 19-22 March 2012, in Leipzig, Germany, are available online, including the welcome address and associated panel discussion.

“Applying an ecosystems approach in urban settings” - First public event of the Ecosystems Knowledge Network

22 May 2012

The Ecosystems Knowledge Network invites you to a project visit and opportunity for shared learning “Applying an ecosystems approach in urban settings” which will take place on 25th June 2012 from 10 am to 4 pm. The event provides the opportunity for people interested in applying an ecosystems approach in urban settings to visit the highly acclaimed Mayesbrook Park Project in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham. The visit will be followed by an opportunity for participants to exchange project ideas and experiences.
The event is free of charge and open to all who represent environmental projects in urban setting. This includes those with interests in:
Green infrastructure, urban regeneration, sustainable communities, urban nature conservation, landscape design or environmental education.
To learn more about the event, please download event flyer.
Learn more about the Ecosystems Knowledge Network

Testing Business Impact – New Values On Natural Resources

18 June 2012

The Business Council for Sustainable Development is running a workshop on Testing Business Impact on Wednesday 30th May to consider whether valuing natural resources could be a business opportunity or another costly burden.
Resources are under pressure. More people, more consumers, climate change and other factors are growing the strain on the planet’s natural assets. The UK Government is responding to a United Nations led action. New, annual, natural asset corporate reporting may become mandatory. Accountants may be the audit compilers. Major businesses will incorporate their supply chains in their responses. So SMEs will not escape. Tax on the use of stressed natural resources is possible. An international framework agreement is to be sought at the international environmental summit in Rio in mid-June.
You can register for the workshop here.

Chair of NCI appointed as a member of the Natural Capital Committee

15 May 2012

Rosie Hails, Chair of the Natural Capital Initiative Steering Group, has been appointed as one of five members of the independent Natural Capital Committee by Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman. The Committee will help Government to ensure the value of England’s natural capital and its potential to support growth is fully taken into account in decision-making.
The Natural Capital Committee, a key Natural Environment White Paper Commitment, will provide advice on the state of English Natural Capital to the Economic Affairs Cabinet Committee, chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. The Natural Capital Committee is chaired by Professor Dieter Helm, University of Oxford.
Read the full announcement on the Defra website

Ecological and economic perspectives on sustainable agriculture

10 May 2012

This week, the Natural Capital Initiative ran a workshop to discuss how ecologists and economists can collaborate to increase sustainability in agriculture.

Two keynote presentations outlined how farmers could be given incentives to protect environmental goods and services. These came from the perspective of ecologist Professor William Sutherland (University of Cambridge) and economist Professor Ian Bateman (University of East Anglia). Both argued that land management decisions must be based on natural science evidence and reflect the complexity of the natural environment.

A panel discussion focussed on the most pressing issues around sustainable agriculture. It quickly became clear that UK agriculture must be seen in global contexts of food security and ecological and social impacts of land uses. The discussion also showed that no “one size fits all” solution can be found; sustainable agriculture might mean intensification in some areas and more protection for biodiversity and environmental services in others.

After lunch, workshop participants discussed which issues they saw as the most pressing, and suggested possible activities on how these could be explored in more depth by collaboration between ecologists and economists.

For example, some participants discussed how farmers could be encouraged to do the ‘right thing in the right place’. Others outlined a comprehensive study of farmer and consumer behaviour across different regions and farming types. This could help to identify the gap between desirable farm management and current behaviour, and reveal possible reasons for this.

Yet another group explored the possibility of integrating environmental services into existing certification schemes like the Soil Association’s Organic Food label. With four out of the six discussions focussing on spatial arrangements of agricultural incentives it appears that ecologists and economists alike think a critical problem with current initiatives lies in a lack of spatial planning and targeting of farmland management measures.

Feedback from participants was very positive and suggested that the debates of the day helped them to better understand both the issues around sustainable agriculture and the perspectives of the other disciplines. Hopefully, some seeds of ideas for further research and co-operation between ecologists and economist were planted during the event.

What people really think about the environment

26 April 2012

A new brief report by the Green Alliance brings together the results of polls of public opinion from 2004 to 2012, and discusses public opinion within the UK about the environment and climate change.
The report shows that the reality of public opinion on environmental issues is generally more positive and more complex than we would anticipate in the current economic climate. Although it has declined to some extent, support for action on climate change remains strong, and economic constraints have made saving energy and cutting waste more normal and important.
Most people want their lifestyles to be both green and affordable. It makes it clear that the challenge for government is to devise policies that make this possible. You can download the full report here: What people really think about the environment: an analysis of public opinion.

Richard Benyon MP gives evidence to Efra Select Committee on the Natural Environment White Paper

25 April 2012

In an Efra Select Committee hearing on Wednesday (18th April), Richard Benyon MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Environment and Fisheries answered the panel’s queries into the measures outlined in the Government’s Natural Environment White Paper (NEWP), published last June. Read the full story on the BES Blog.

Business Engagement Internships funded by NERC - Call for proposals now open

25 April 2012

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) is funding a number of short projects / internships on Business Engagement with Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services.
The objectives of this programme are to:

  • Initiate collaborations between academics and business or third sector organisation partners, leading to the application of ecosystem services approaches in longer term self-sustaining activities undertaken by partners
  • Generate evidence and case studies of how businesses and other organisations have used or could use ecosystem services approaches, in collaboration with academics, to introduce innovation into their business
  • Provide evidence concerning the effectiveness of policies intended to facilitate the development of ecosystem services approaches by businesses and third sector organisations.

The call for this programme is now open. It is managed by the Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network (ESKTN) on behalf of NERC. Full details of the call and the application form are available here.
If you are have a project idea but do not yet have a partner, then please make use of the discussion area on our webgroup forum to advertise / develop your collaborative ideas: click here.
If you wwould like to receive electronic copies of the forms or have any other difficulties in accessing the information, then contact the  ESKTN Administrator, Anna Baginska on or phone 01865 610505.

OECD Environmental Outlook to 2050 outlines the consequences of inaction

28 March 2012

This OECD report asks ‘What will the next four decades bring?’ Based on a projected increase of the earth’s population from 7 billion to over 9 billion and a world economy to nearly quadruple by 2050, a growing demand for energy and natural resources will put further pressure on the environment. The report outlines the effects of this development on four areas, climate change, biodiversity, freshwater, and health impacts of pollution, in a baseline scenario. It concludes that the implementation of effective green growth policy mixes will depend on political leadership and on widespread public acceptance that changes are both necessary and affordable.
The report is available online. Click here to browse it.

New POSTNote on Sustainability

26 March 2012

Sustainability is the long term maintenance and enhancement of human well-being within finite planetary resources. It is usually considered to have environmental, economic, and social dimensions. The Parliament Office of Science and Technology recently published a briefing note that summarises issues in defining and achieving sustainability. The POSTnote "Seeking Sustainability" is available for download here:

Rosie Hails outlines opportunities for business engagement with the Natural Capital Initiative

16 March 2012

Rosie Hails, Chair of the Natural Capital Initiative Steering Group, spoke at an event on “Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services for Business: new collaboration opportunities” on the 13 March 2012. The event, commissioned by NERC and organised by the Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network (ESKTN), attracted about 130 participants from academia, businesses, policy and third sector groups.
Prof Hails outlined how the latest academic research at the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, one of the Natural Capital Initiatives (NCI) three partners, can help industries to refining their understanding of their dependencies on environmental goods and services. Some of this research around four key topics, soils, water, biodiversity and energy, has already involved collaborations with businesses. She also emphasised the opportunities the Natural Capital Initiative provides for bringing together businesses with academia, not-for-profit organisations and policy makers to discuss issues around natural capital and ecosystem services further.
The event included presentations on existing academic initiatives on ecosystem services, like the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, NERC’s Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (BESS) programme and the Valuing Nature Network (VNN) as well as Defra's work on Payment for Ecosystems (PES) and the Ecosystem Markets Task Force. Two business case studies illustrated how ecosystem service valuation and management have been applied in the business sector.
Working groups around different sectors, e.g. water, food production, and the extractive industries, discussed opportunities and challenges in embedding natural capital and ecosystem services into business decision making and how academic activities could help implementing these approaches.
Documentation of the event and videos of the presentations will be available shortly on the webpages of the Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network.

Call for Expresssions of Interest for the follow-on phase of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment

15 March 2012

Last year, the UK National Ecosystem Assessment delivered a wealth of information on the state, the economic and social value and possible future of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems across the UK. The research also identified a number of key uncertainties. In a follow-on phase, some of these uncertainties will now be addressed.
The second phase also aims to further develop  and  promote  ways  to  use  the evidence within decision and policy making at a range of spatial scales across the UK to a wide range of stakeholders.

Interdisciplinary teams can express their interest in specific topic until 4th April 2012 on the UK National Ecosystem Assessment website

European Business and Biodiversity Campaign launches video on why biodiversity is important for business

05 March 2012
Using a business case model, a short video by the European Business & Biodiversity Campaign explains how companies benefit from biodiversity and how they can contribute to the protection of species and ecosystems. You can watch the video "Why is biodiversity important for your business?" here

Draft review of Scottish Biodiversity Strategy published

01 March 2012
The Scottish Biodiversity Strategy, ‘Scotland’s Biodiversity: It’s in Your Hands‘ is currently undergoing a review and a pre-consultation draft of the new strategy was published on the 15th February. The Scottish Government published the first Biodiversity Strategy in 2004 with the aim of conserving biodiversity ‘for the health, enjoyment and wellbeing of the people of Scotland now and in the future’. It fulfilled Scotland’s obligations under the Convention on Biological Diversity and to the UK BAP, and is intended to cover the period up to 2030. The current review will update the Strategy to meet the new challeneges and targets for 2020 as set out in the UN ‘Aichi’ targets and the European Biodiversity Strategy. Consultation on the proposed changes will be ongoing over the summer. The draft strategy review is available from the Scottish Natural Heritage website, and updates on the consultation will be published by The Scottish Government.
From the British Ecological Society blog.

World Resources Institute publishes second version of the review on Business Ecosystem Services

29 February 2012
The World Resources Institute has brought out a second version of its Corporate Ecosystem Services Review: Guidelines for identifying Business Risks and Opportunities Arising from Ecosystem Change, which is designed as a tool for strategy development as well as well as for environmental assessment. A new WRI report, Nature in Performance: Integrating Ecosystem Services into Business Performance Systems, looks at ways in which companies can integrate considerations of ecosystem services into their existing business performance systems such as corporate strategy development procedures, product design guidelines, environmental management systems, environmental impact assessments, environmental and social impact assessments, environmental audits, and sustainability reporting. More...

Ecosystem Services: do we need birds? - BOU Annual Conference 2012 registration now open

23 February 2012
The British Ornithologists’ Union Annual Conference 2012, from 3 – 5 April 2012 at the University of Leicester, will explore our understanding of the ecosystem services provided by birds and showcase current research into the importance of birds in ecosystem functioning.

The conference aims to:

  • consolidate our understanding of the provisioning, regulating, supporting and cultural ecosystem services provided by birds;
  • showcase novel methods for determining and valuing bird ecosystem services, focussing on functional ecology, spatial relationships between bird diversity and ecosystem functioning and the socio-economic importance of birds;
  • examine the response of Governments, policy-makers and conservation organisations to the ecosystem services approach and discuss what this means for traditional species conservation;
  • consider the evidence needs for decision-makers looking to integrate ecosystem service science and species conservation, and the implications for bird conservation in the 21st Century.

Click here for details: BOU Annual Conference

Exchange on TEEB processes in European countries - Workshop documentation now online

21 Feburary 2012
Based on the global TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) study, more and more individual countries now assess ecosystem services at the national level. These encompass ecological assessments and economic valuation of particular ecosystem services and aim to back up the discussions on conservation of ecosystems and biodiversity with additional economic arguments and integrating them into relevant decision-making processes. Results are intended to be communicated to the public in order to raise awareness for the value of natural capital and acceptance for related conservation measures.
An international workshop, which took place on 11-15 October 2011 in Vilm, Germany, provided a platform for exchange and mutual learning about TEEB processes in different European countries. The final report along with all workshop materials are now available from the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation website.

Second State of Scotland’s Greenspace Report now available

15 February 2012
The report sets out, for the first time, data on the amount and type of greenspace for all of urban Scotland, with private gardens accounting for 39 per cent, natural spaces 22 per cent, amenity greenspace 22 per cent, sports 10 per cent, public parks and gardens eight per cent and the remainder as play spaces, allotments and burial grounds.  Case studies show how local authorities are using the data to inform the strategic planning and management of greenspace and the report is intended to provide a baseline for analysing future trends and examining the impacts of greenspace policy and investment.  It also reveals that work is ongoing in local authorities to undertake quality audits of greenspace, since this is often the most important factor in determining their use and benefit to local communities.
The report is available for download here.

UK will point the way to greener growth at Rio+20

9 February 2012
The UK will be a driving force in pressing for new goals to help the world embrace a greener and more sustainable economy at this summer’s major UN conference in Brazil, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman pledged today.
In a speech setting out the UK ambitions for Rio+20, in June, Mrs Spelman said the UK will work with Colombia and others to develop and drive forward the proposal for new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDGs are expected to guide and galvanise international and domestic efforts on major sustainability issues, such as food security, water, and access to sustainable energy.
In a move to give greater prominence to valuing nature, the UK will also be seeking agreement to move away from using GDP as the sole indicator of progress in government accounts. The proposal, known as GDP+, would encourage countries to also measure and account for the value of their natural resources and the social wellbeing of their people.

United Nations Environment Programme publishes technical papers on key ecosystem services economics topics

07 February 2012
UNEP Ecosystem Services Economics Unit has recently published technical papers, covering topics such as: ethical foundations of economic valuation; payments for ecosystem services and cost-benefit analysis in the context of ecosystem services. The technical papers can be downloaded here.

Scottish communities could appraise nature's services

04 February 2012
Communities could be encouraged to make their own assessments of the direct benefits they get from nature. A toolkit has been developed as a guide to understanding the landscape and what are called ecosystem services and how they are affected by climate change. These ecosystem services include natural processes that provide food and fuel, purify air, enrich soils and prevent floods. Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and Highland Council plan to run pilots in the Highlands using the toolkit.
Read more…

Consultation on a Green Paper on a new approach to natural resource management in Wales now open

03 February 2012

Wales' nature, land, water and air are our ultimate resource - the basis on which everything else is possible. If we are to realise our aspirations for better quality of life and future prospects, we need to ensure that that resource is put to best and most sustainable use.
The Welsh Government aims to ensure that Wales has increasingly resilient and diverse ecosystems that deliver economic, environmental and social benefits.  
It is seeking your views on proposed changes to the governance and delivery of the management and regulation of the environment in Wales, based on the ecosystem approach. An ecosystem is all the living things, and how they interact, with each other and their environment. This work will inform future Welsh Bills.
This is a challenge which will require new thinking. The Welsh Government wants to know whether there is an appetite for radical change and whether the suggested building blocks they propose are the right ones.
Closing date: 31 May 2012

Agenda for envecon 2012 announced

24 January 2012
The UK Network of Environmental Economists (UKNEE) has announced a draft agenda for envecon 2012: Applied Environmental Economics Conference which will take place on Friday 9th March 2012, at The Royal Society in London.
Now in its 10th year, this one-day conference will bring together environmental economists from public and private sectors, academia and consultancy to share results of recent research and discuss issues relevant to the practical application of environmental economics in the UK and elsewhere. By creating a mutual platform for those who commission work and those who undertake it, the conference aims to contribute to the effective use of environmental economics for environmental policy and management, as well as influence the research agenda.
The conference will include sessions on Climate Change Policy, Economic Valuation, Ecosystem Management, VNN Plenary, Economic Policy for Marine and Fresh Waters and Economic Appraisal.
Registration closes Friday 2th March.
Learn more on the conference website.  

Online debate - Ecosystem economics – can we put a price on nature?

23 January 2012
The first in a series of online Earth Debates organised by the Natural History Museum in the run up to Rio+20 will be broadcast at 7pm on 25th January. The topic of the first debate will ecosystem economics and whether calculating the value of the natural services will be likely to promote sustainable development. Questions and comment are being sought to shape the debate which will be chaired by Richard Black of the BBC and include panellists Claire Brown, UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre and UK National Ecosystem Assessment; Ian Dickie, Aldersgate Group and eftec; Will Evison, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and a Defra minster. Subsequent debates will focus on measures of progress beyond GDP; green cities in a green economy and food security.
Learn more... 

Conserving biodiversity hotspots 'could bring world's poor $500bn a year'

20 January 2012
Study puts economic value on the indirect ecosystem services provided by the world's poorest people. Read more...

Event on Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services for Business: new collaboration opportunities

20 January 2012
Business has been put at the centre of the stage to deliver the sustainable economy that the Government pledges to provide in the Natural Environment White Paper.
This creates real opportunities for businesses, in terms of new markets (e.g. via Payment for Ecosystem Services/Offsets/Restoration) and new collaborations with delivery agencies and other institutions (e.g. via Nature Improvement Areas).
This one-day event, supported by professional and business bodies, will provide a forum for businesses to engage directly with some of the key researchers working in this area.
With top speakers including NCI Chair Prof. Rosie Hails, MBE, Prof. Ian Bateman (Co-Leader of the Valuing Nature Network), Prof. Dave Rafaelli (Leader of NERC’s Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services Programme) and Dr Rob Bradburne of Defra, as well as key business leaders, the day will provide a mix of speakers, discussion and project-development breakout sessions.
Outcomes of the day will include:

  • Identification of specific areas where there are already tools that could be used or developed further by industry in collaboration with academia
  • Identification of common themes of interest and actions that would address these
  • Initiation of project developments for internship funding

The event will take place on Tuesday 13th March 2012 at the The Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining (IOM3), 1 Carlton House Terrace, London.
To register for this free event and for full details of the day and directions to IOM3 please go to

The economic invisibility of nature

[from the British Ecological Society blog]
A fusion of economics and ecology is required to properly measure and capture the value of biodiversity. That was the message of an event at Parliament organised by Biodiversity, the UK all party parliamentary group, chaired by Barry Gardiner MP, and attended by the British Ecological Society Policy Team.
Read their report here.
18 January 2012

Defra launches the Ecosystems Knowledge Network: a resource for anyone wanting to share knowledge or learn about the practical benefits of an ecosystems approach

A healthy natural environment is the foundation of a sustainable future with prospering communities.
In the UK and elsewhere, pioneering projects are exploring new ways of managing land and sea environments and the benefits people derive from them. In particular, they are reflecting an ‘ecosystems approach’: a holistic and inclusive approach to promoting the sustainable use of natural resources and taking better account of the values people hold for the environment.
A new network has been sponsored by Defra with the aim of sharing experience from projects taking an ecosystems approach. Entitled the Ecosystems Knowledge Network, it will stimulate knowledge exchange and practical learning across the country. It will assist organisations and groups to understand how an ecosystems approach can help build sustainable communities.
The Ecosystems Knowledge Network is free to join and open to anyone with an interest in an ecosystems approach. The Network will support the practical use of an ecosystems approach by:

  • Developing an active membership of people and organisations interested in benefiting from an ecosystems approach;
  • Encouraging the sharing of information and experience between projects and between experts and newcomers to the approach; and
  • Engaging with and involving people who might not otherwise be aware of how an ecosystems approach can benefit them.

The Natural Capital Initiatve is developing the new Network in an independent partnership involving the NERC Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, Fabis Consulting, the University of Exeter (Centre for Rural Policy Research) and Countryscape.
The Network website and other communications are currently being developed.

In the meantime, for further information about the Network or to register your interest in joining, please visit
You can also contact the Network Co-ordinator by email at or telephone 0333 240 6990.
10 January 2012

Open competition: erg 1120: scoping study to develop understanding of a natural capital asset check

The following has just been advertised on DEFRA’s website Applications for the above projects must reach by 4:00pm on or before 27/01/2012
15 December 2011

Pricing the Priceless

This report, "Pricing the Priceless, the business case for action on biodiversity", finds that protecting biodiversity and introducing new frameworks to incorporate the value of nature into decision making will be vital to safeguard long-term economic growth.
15 December 2011

European Environment Agency presents new framework for ecosystem capital accounting

The European Environment Agency (EEA) published findings of an experimental project investigating simplified ecosystem capital accounts (SECA) for Europe. The purpose of ecosystem accounts is to broaden the scope of the variables taken into account in policymaking, yielding new indicators and aggregates that will be made available to policymakers and analysts to assess the efficiency of natural resource use, the pattern of economic growth, the contribution of nature and its use within and outside the market, the short- and longer-term constraints resulting from the need to maintain living and other renewable capital, and the related benefits and costs. The project aims at framing ecosystem accounts and identifying which indicators and aggregates could be delivered and integrated into enlarged national accounts. Based on the project findings, an overall framework for ecosystem capital accounting has been designed. It highlights accounting balances and relationships between accounting tables and systems as well as key indicators and aggregates that describe economy ecosystem interactions. 
EEA Press release
Report: An experimental framework for ecosystem capital accounting in Europe (629kb pdf)

New publication: The Value of Green Infrastructure in Birmingham and the Black Country

This month sees the publication of a survey valuing a range of ecosystem services provided by the urban Green Infrastructure in Birmingham and the Black Country (containing the city of Wolverhampton and the boroughs of Dudley, Sandwell and Walsall). The pressure on the natural environment and green infrastructure in the UK, especially in urban areas, is increasing, driven for example by land use change, built development and ultimately climate change and population growth. One main aim of this research was to provide information about the wide range of ecosystem services and its value to human well-being. Another aim was to provide a best practice example within the UK applying the value transfer approach to evaluate ecosystem services. Within Birmingham and the Black Country, ecosystem services provided by woodland, heathland and wetland have been valued. Stating the best guess, 2,422 ha of Green Infrastructure provides an annual value of at least £20.8 million which results in £1.1 billion capitalised over 100 years. A detailed summary table can be found in the executive summary report. Considering the incomplete scientific evidence and partially insufficient baseline data, a wide range of ecosystem services are not included in this value. Therefore the findings can be interpreted as a minimum estimate of the total value. Because this approach is new for the Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country we are very interested in constructive feedback. We are planning to develop this work further.
13 September 2011 

Making Space for Nature

The BES has published a report of the Conservation Ecology Special Interest Group’s meeting into ‘Making Space for Nature’, examining the ecological issues raised by the Lawton Review, and other current topics in nature conservation.
25 August 2011

Defra publishes two reports on the valuation of ecosystem services

The value of ecosystem services provided by the UK’s wildlife and habitats has been estimated in two research reports published by Defra today. These two primary valuation research studies examine benefits people obtain from the natural environment. Using expert judgement and participatory valuation approaches, the study ‘Economic valuation of the benefits of ecosystem services delivered by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan’ estimated the value of ecosystem services delivered by different UK BAP habitats and the changes in provision of these services through biodiversity conservation measures over the next 20 years. The report on ‘The Benefits of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in England and Wales’ assessed the economic value of changes in biodiversity and associated ecosystem services which will result from future policy scenarios for Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). The reports estimate the wildlife covered by the UK BAP and Sites of Special Scientific Interest is worth approximately £1.5 billion per year to the UK.

'The Benefits of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in England and Wales'
‘Economic valuation of the benefits of ecosystem services delivered by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan’
24 August 2011

Biodiversity 2020: A strategy for England’s wildlife and ecosystem services

This new, ambitious biodiversity strategy for England builds on the Natural Environment White Paper and provides a comprehensive picture of how we are implementing our international and EU commitments. It sets out the strategic direction for biodiversity policy for the next decade on land (including rivers and lakes) and at sea. It builds on the successful work that has gone before, but also seeks to deliver a real step change.  

Initial comments from the British Ecological Society Policy Team can be found here:
24 August 2011

Defra’s White Paper tackles the Natural Choice

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs launches its White Paper "The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature today". The Natural Capital Initiative will be focusing on the detail of the policy implications in the coming days but here are a few highlights:

  • Natural Capital Committee – an independent body to report to the Government’s economic affairs committee chaired by the Chancellor of the Exchequer. This body will put the value of nature at the heart of the Government’s economic thinking, and advise Government about the best way of securing our natural assets for the future.
  • An annual statement of green accounts for UK Plc – showing where our economy has withdrawn from the value of nature’s bank balance, and where we have invested in it. This will help measure green growth alongside GDP.
  • A business-led Task Force chaired by Kingfisher Group Chief Executive Officer Ian Cheshire, to expand the UK business opportunities from new products and services which are good for the economy and nature alike.
  • Strengthening local public health activities which connect people with nature for better health
  • Better urban green spaces for the benefit of cities and towns. Support for parks, gardens, and tree planting which benefit people and nature alike
  • More children experiencing nature by learning outdoors, through practical support to schools and reducing red-tape for outdoor learning.
  • Biodiversity offsetting – new way for developers to ensure we don’t lose wildlife sites and make them better by making and improving other sites.

The Society of Biology and NCI have been actively supporting policy debate around biodiversity offsetting, public health, outdoor learning, and the value of nature. Members of the Society of Biology were pleased to welcome the launch of the National Ecosystem Assessment last week at Charles Darwin House.
7 June 2011

National Treasures are Hidden

Today sees the publication of the National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) and the culmination of a joint exercise by approximately 500 experts in the natural sciences, economics and the social sciences, and including many Fellows and Members of the Society of Biology. The NEA provides an overview and unique valuation of the natural assets of the UK and looks at the changes which have occurred over the past half-century alongside assessments and predictions for the coming decades.
2 June 2011

Valuing Nature Network workshops now open for expressions of interest

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) has funded the Valuing Nature Network (VNN) to develop interdisciplinary partnerships to scope, develop and promote research capacity in the valuation of ecosystems for the benefits which they deliver. VNN will be running a series of workshops on biodiversity and ecosystem service valuation in London and Nottingham in May 2011. The workshops will cover a broad range of topics associated with valuing biodiversity, ecosystem services and natural resource use and bring together researchers from disciplines such as natural science, economics and social science, as well as decision makers from the business and policy sectors. The workshops aim to create a network of people across disciplines who are engaged in the value of the natural environment. The outputs of this meeting will feed into a Town Meeting on research needs of all sectors and will be additionally useful in highlighting research priorities to funders and policymakers alike. To register your interest in attending these workshops see the Valuing Nature Network website.
7 April 2011

Scotland's nature on the up

Woodland, freshwater, coast and urban green areas have improved in Scotland in the last decade, according to a Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) study. Scotland is the first country in the world to publish a detailed account of changes in natural capital, based on evaluating ecosystems. SNH's pilot Natural Capital Asset index is the first of its kind to take the idea of economic capital and apply it to the environment in this way. Ecosystems, such as woodlands, rivers or moorlands, provide us with numerous services, including fresh water for drinking, wild salmon and venison, carbon storage, pollination of flowering plants, oxygen production, as well as recreation such as hill walking, bird watching and just relaxing on the beach. All of these rely on our natural capital. SNH is also asking for feedback on the pilot index, which will be refined over 2011. The index, which includes details about how to provide comments, can be found at
29 March 2011 

Scotland's land use strategy

Scotland's first ever Land Use Strategy has been published, signalling a change in the way that we work together to sustain one of Scotland's 'most valuable assets'. The emphasis will be on a joined-up approach to the way we use the land, whether its for recreation, agriculture, biodiversity or living space. This new, integrated strategy, focussing on shared principles for sustainable land use, will make sure that individual policies work together for the overall benefit of Scotland. In support of the strategy an information note has also been published, explaining how decisions which affect land use can take greater account of the health of ecosystems and the services they provide.
Getting the best from our land - A land use strategy for Scotland 
23 March 2011 

Making Space for Nature – The Ecological Challenges of the Lawton Review

BES Conservation Ecology Special Interest Group 19th April 2011 at Charles Darwin House, London The Lawton Report, “Making Space for Nature”, sets out a new strategy where wildlife habitats in England are bigger, better and more joined up. This involves a step change, from hanging on to what we have, to large-scale habitat restoration and recreation. This needs to be under-pinned by the re-establishment of ecological processes and ecosystem services, for the benefits of both people and wildlife. This meeting will explore the ecological challenges of this approach, what it will mean for ecologists, policy makers and land managers, and the research and knowledge exchange required." Booking deadline - 5th April 2011
23 March 2011

POSTnote and report 370 - Environmental Limits

POSTnote 370 - Environmental Limits ( PDF 258 KB) Fourpage POSTnote, January 2011 Full POST Report 370 ( PDF 5.5 MB) One hundred and fifty-nine page report, March 2011 Natural resources such as land, water, soil, plants and animals should be used and managed within boundaries that allow the resource to renew itself. Otherwise, well-being, for present and future generations, will be impacted. This POSTnote summarises a longer POST report on environmental limits, which sets out the challenges to achieving this aim, whilst considering the complex trade-offs between social, economic and environmental objectives
10 March 2011

New Parliamentary group will promote green farming

MPS and peers of all parties have come together to promote environmentally friendly farming as the solution to the global food security problem. The new All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Agroecology attracted ‘one of the best-ever turn-outs’ for an APPG launch, according Baroness Sue Miller, one of the founding members of the group. She said the interest in the event at the Palace of Westminster reflected the importance attached to environmentally-friendly farming.

“There is no more important subject than how to feed the world without using the resource equivalent of two or three planet Earths,” Baroness Miller said. Agroecology, defined as ‘applying ecological concepts and principles to the study, design and management of sustainable agroecosystems’ is seen by some as the antidote to the model of ‘sustainable intensification’, promoted by the recent Foresight report on global food and farming. The all party group, which will meet every month that Parliament is sitting, will promote the concept within Parliament through, for example, inviting experts to brief MPs, peers ands advisers and publishing briefings on agroecological issues. It will also lobby Ministers and Shadow Ministers directly and through Early Day Motions, debates and Parliamentary Questions.
9 March 2011 

A living Wales

Next steps in delivering Wales’ new approach to managing its natural environment published Environment Minister Jane Davidson has outlined the next steps in plans to radically transform the way Wales manages and protects its environment, countryside and seas. Following discussions and an open consultation, plans to adopt a new ‘ecosystem approach’ have been published in a progress report on “A Living Wales”, the Welsh Assembly Government’s new framework for managing the living environment. The new approach will look at the environment as a whole and set out a much more integrated approach to managing the natural environment that improves the health of ecosystems as a whole. The Minister said: “A Living Wales outlined our proposals for an ecosystem approach to managing Wales’ living environment and I’m delighted that the consensus of the 180 consultation responses was to welcome this move."
2 March 2011

Biodiversity & Ecosystem Service Sustainability (BESS)

Announcement of Opportunity - Programme Advisory Group Closing date: 4 March 2011 NERC is inviting applications from individuals interested in joining the Programme Advisory Group (PAG) for the Biodiversity & Ecosystem Service Sustainability (BESS) programme  he BESS programme is a planned five year £13m research programme, which aims to contribute to our understanding of the role biodiversity plays in ecosystem function and service provision.
21 February 2011

Sustainable Development in the Localism Bill - one-off oral evidence session announced

The Environmental Audit Committee will take evidence from the Town and Country Planning Association; Friends of the Earth; Campaign to Protect Rural England; and representatives from the Department for Communities and Local Government. The Environmental Audit Committee is announcing a one-off evidence session on the Government’s intention to introduce a ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’. This was part of the Coalition-Government’s proposal to reform the planning system but this is not included in the Bill. Instead the Government has announced that the ‘presumption in favour of sustainable development’ will be included in a new overarching Government planning policy document, the National Planning Policy Framework, which will not be subject to Parliamentary debate. The session is open to the press and the public and will take place on Wednesday 16 February 2011
16 February 2011

Forests: the silent public servants

They filter and purify the air, regulate floods and stabilise soil, support wildlife and contribute to the mental and physical wellbeing of people, both those who visit them and those who appreciate their existence. The value of our forests far exceeds the value of their timber or the ground space that they occupy. They have a long service record and will not retire or draw a pension. They do require upkeep and management but we must carefully account for their full value to society in all discussions about their future. Dr Laura Bellingan, Senior Science Policy Adviser at the Society of Biology said: “The sale of under-valued or under-protected forests would not serve the public well. Biologists and others are actively involved in valuing, managing and restoring ecosystems and the services they provide. This knowledge should be used to ensure the public benefit from the land that they own. Evidence-based assessment of the full value of services provided by publicly-owned forests, as well as their potential value, is essential to inform future decisions. The ecosystem services provided by these forests should be maximised to provide sustainable public benefit in perpetuity and any decision which alters their ownership should guarantee this principle. A precautionary approach should be taken where there is doubt about future stewardship.”
1 February, 2011

The Changing Wealth of Nations: measuring sustainable development in the new millennium

Time: 6.15 pm for 6.30 pm start, close approximately 7.30 pm Location: London School of Economics, Clements House, Room D502, Aldwych “How we measure development will drive how we do development”. This is the thesis of a new book by the World Bank measuring the change in comprehensive wealth for over 100 countries from 1995 to 2005. The study finds that in 2005 natural capital (forests, farmland, minerals and energy) constituted 20-35% of the total wealth of developing countries, exceeding the share of produced capital in low income countries.

Intangible wealth, an amalgam of human and institutional capital, is by far the largest share of total wealth in virtually all countries, and growth in intangible assets over the decade accounted for nearly 100% of the increase in wealth in Sub-Saharan Africa and Eastern Europe and Central Asia. Trends in wealth creation were particularly strong in East Asia and South Asia, offset by disappointing trends in the extractive economies of Africa and Central Asia. New analysis highlights the role of intangible wealth in development and the value of accumulated stocks of carbon dioxide emitted by countries and regions.

Speaker: Kirk Hamilton is a lead economist in the Development Research Group at the World Bank, a co-author of "The Changing Wealth of Nations" (2011), "World Development Report 2010: Development and Climate Change," and the principal author of "Where is the Wealth of Nations?" (2006). Prior to joining the World Bank, Dr. Hamilton was a senior research fellow at the UK Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, and Deputy Director of National Accounts for the government of Canada, where he started Canada's work on comprehensive wealth measurement. He has a PhD in economics from University College London.
26 January, 2011 

Call for members of the ESPA International Programme Advisory Committee (I-PAC)

Applications are invited to join the Ecosystems Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) International Programme Advisory Committee (I-PAC). ESPA is a highly innovative global research programme designed to provide world-class evidence on how ecosystem services can improve the lives of the world's poorest people. ESPA will invest in researchers around the world to create new knowledge, through excellent interdisciplinary research to be conducted in Africa, South Asia, China and the Amazon Basin.

The ESPA I-PAC has a crucial role in providing advice to the Directorate and ESPA's funders to ensure that the programme delivers world class science, meeting the most pressing current policy and evidence needs, and through this has the potential to improve the lives of millions of poor people around the world. I-PAC members will be world-leading researchers, opinion formers and development practitioners selected to provide ESPA with the advice it requires to ensure success. I-PAC members will be selected to ensure representation of each of the ESPA regions and to provide adequate oversight of the main research areas or approaches to be used by ESPA. Further information and guidance on how to apply can be found on

Deadline for applications is 17:00 GMT, 31 January 2011.
24 December, 2010 

Valuing Nature Network

A Network for Valuing Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Natural Resource Use is being established to scope, develop and promote research capacity in the valuation of biodiversity, ecosystem services and natural resources. Sponsored by the Natural Environment Research Council, it will involve experts in the natural, social and applied sciences. The Network will bring together researchers, business, public policy representatives and civil society organisations.

An inaugural meeting in early 2011 will develop a shared understanding of the valuation challenges remaining to be addressed and refine the scope of Network. A series of ‘sand-pit’ events will initiate a more detailed and intensive exploration of specific topics, and define the scope of a series of specific research workshops. Network participants will be invited to bid for the funds to organise and take part in workshops. The Network is being led by Professor Steve Albon FRS at Macaulay Land Use Research Institute. More information, or to register for updates on Network activities, visit
16 December, 2010

Workshop report: Addressing scientific knowledge and environmental information challenges for biodiversity offsetting in the UK

A report from the second in a series of inter-disciplinary workshops, organised by the Natural Capital Initiative, has now been published. The workshop brought together 37 participants from 29 organisations - including government, regulatory agencies, consultancy, the non-profit sector and academia - to identify the scientific and environmental information required to effectively implement biodiversity offsetting. Specific challenges addressed by workshop participants were: 1. The implications of environmental change for the longevity of offset credits 2. Opportunities and constraints of restoration ecology for the generation of credits 3. Data needs and provision 4. The contribution of offsetting towards biodiversity and landscape goals A report summarising the discussions during the workshop is available here.
1 December, 2010

Environment Minister launches Business and Biodiversity programme

Environment Minister Edwin Poots has launched the Business and Biodiversity Programme at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum, Cultra. The programme is managed by ARENA Network, the environmental arm of Business in the Community, and sponsored by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency and AES Ballylumford. The aim of the programme is to engage with Northern Ireland’s businesses, to promote biodiversity issues and increase levels of awareness of the economic value and importance of biodiversity. Speaking at the launch the Environment Minister said: “There are many challenges for businesses in understanding the economic value and importance of biodiversity and the benefits it can bring to their business."

24 November, 2010 

Natural value: messages from the National Ecosystem Assessment

Defra has pulled together a number of web links and publications relating to the National Ecosystem Assessment and other projects which aim to put a value on ecosystem services Three other documents were published on 18 October alongside the NEA Key Messages:

  1. What nature can do for you: a practical introduction to making the most of natural services, assets and resources in policy and decision making . A guide for policy makers on an ecosystems approach. This is a practical introduction to making the most of natural services, assets and resources in policy and decision making. An executive brochure for What nature can do for you has also been published.
  2. Towards a deeper understanding of nature’s value: Encouraging an interdisciplinary approach towards evidence about the value of the natural environment . Analysis of the evidence base on the value of the natural environment
  3. Payments for ecosystem services: a short introduction. Key definitions and broad principles for payments for ecosystems,9P64,2Z7QLF,T5B2,1
17 November, 2010 

An Integrated Assessment for Countryside Survey data to investigate Ecosystem Services in Great Britain

The Countryside Survey (CS) Integrated Assessment report was published on 27 October 2010. The analysis in the report uses CS data to investigate the ecosystem services provided by the countryside. This work was led by scientists from the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) working with colleagues from CS partner organisations.

10 November, 2010 

UK needs green economics minister, advisers urge

The UK government should create a new ministerial post for green economics, an international policy group that includes MPs past and present has said. The minister would play a role similar to the Treasury chief secretary, but looking after "natural capital". The recommendation comes from Globe International, whose members include ex-Environment Secretary John Gummer - now Lord Deben - and Zac Goldsmith MP. Globe - Global Legislators for a Balanced Environment - brings together members of parliaments across the world, including major players such as China, India, Brazil and several EU nations. Its current report - the Natural Capital Action Plan - is designed to help governments implement the findings of the Teeb project, and work natural capital into their national accounting and policymaking frameworks.

31 October, 2010 

World Bank to lead economic push on nature protection

The World Bank has launched a global partnership aimed at helping countries include the costs of destroying nature into their national accounts. Ten nations will take part in the pilot phase, including India and Colombia. The bank's president Robert Zoellick said environmental destruction happens partly because governments do not account for the value of nature. The new project aims to pick up conclusions of a recent UN-backed project on The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb), and help governments turn them into policy.

"The groundbreaking report... has helped define the importance of biodiversity in a new way," said UK Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman. "What's absolutely clear is that we need to bring about a real change in the way we value natural capital and ecosystem services and integrate them into the mainstream of our decision-making processes."
31 October, 2010

Bank of Natural Capital

The Bank of Natural Capital is a website created to communicate the findings of The TEEB Study into The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). The TEEB Study assessed the global economic costs of ecosystem degradation and biodiversity loss, and recommended solutions to policy makers, administrators, businesses and individuals We have to point out that the Bank of Natural Capital does not, yet, provide either traditional or natural banking services.
31 October, 2010

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity

Nagoya, Japan, 20 October 2010– The economic importance of the world's natural assets is now firmly on the political radar as a result of an international assessment showcasing the enormous economic value of forests, freshwater, soils and coral reefs, as well as the social and economic costs of their loss, was the conclusion of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) report launched today by TEEB study leader, Pavan Sukhdev.

"TEEB has documented not only the multi-trillion dollar importance to the global economy of the natural world, but the kinds of policy-shifts and smart market mechanisms that can embed fresh thinking in a world beset by a rising raft of multiple challenges. The good news is that many communities and countries are already seeing the potential of incorporating the value of nature into decision-making,” said Mr. Sukhdev, a banker who heads up the Green Economy Initiative of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He was speaking at the launch of the two-year study, which has involved hundreds of experts from around the world, at the Convention on Biological Diversity’s 10th Conference of Parties meeting (CBD COP10) in Nagoya.

The report, press release and supporting materials are at:
20 October, 2010

How much would you pay for planet Earth?

Putting a cash value on nature may give officials heading to a biodiversity summit the jolt they need
20 October, 2010

Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (SPICe Briefing)

This briefing provides some background to the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity taking place this year, and then highlights three aspects of biodiversity. First, progress by Scotland, the UK and the EU towards meeting the target to halt the decline in biodiversity by 2010. Second, the cost of failure to protect biodiversity, and finally, the next meeting of the conference of the parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity in Japan.
20 October, 2010 

The value of nature

The first messages from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment have been published showing how valuable nature continues to be, both to our society and the economy.Government is committed to putting the value of the natural environment at the heart of decision making and has released three documents to encourage policy makers, scientists and economists to help make this happen:

  • What nature can do for you: A practical introduction to making the most of natural services, assets and resources in policy and decision making. 
  • Towards a deeper understanding of nature’s value: Encouraging an interdisciplinary approach towards evidence about the value of the natural environment
  • Payments for ecosystem services: a short introduction
19 October 2010

Protecting our natural capital: an EU strategy to conserve biodiversity and ensure the provision of ecosystem services by 2020

Many authoritative reports confirm that global biodiversity remains under severe threat, with losses occurring at 100 to 1000 times the normal rate. More than a third of species assessed are facing extinction and an estimated 60% of the Earth’s ecosystems have been degraded in the last 50 years. In 2001, the EU set itself the target to halt biodiversity loss in the EU by 2010. Efforts to tackle biodiversity loss were subsequently stepped up, and an EU Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP) was adopted by the Commission in 2006 to accelerate progress. Despite the efforts to date, however, there are clear indications that the EU has not achieved its target.

The objective of this consultation is to gather input from a wide range of stakeholders on possible policy options for the European Union's post-2010 EU biodiversity strategy, which will be assessed by the Commission as part of the process of its development. Closing date: 22 October, 2010.

5 October, 2010 

Consultation on the Scottish Government's Draft Land Use Strategy

A consultation has been launched on a strategy which sets out, for the first time, a high-level, long-term agenda for sustainable land use across Scotland. Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment Richard Lochhead said this was the first time that land use across Scotland has been considered in this way - setting down in one place 'our thinking on how we manage our valuable resources so as to maximise the benefits on an ongoing basis'. The consultation proposes three strategic objectives:

  • Successful land-based businesses contributing to Scotland's prosperity and wellbeing
  • Flourishing natural environments delivering the widest range of benefits to Scotland, and playing their part in mitigating global climate change
  • Vibrant, sustainable communities in urban and rural areas, with people connected to the land, enjoying it and taking an interest in its future

The Scottish Government is also consulting until 25 October 2010 on Speak Up for Rural Scotland - how to maximise rural Scotland's contribution to sustainable economic growth. We will consider responses to both consultations to offer a consistent approach to shaping the future of land use and of rural Scotland. Closing date: 17 December 2010