Today, it seems if you want to sell something or encourage people to value it, it must be packaged, branded and marketed. Those of us who love Nature, wild places and the flora and fauna that rely on us to protect them, have long known the value of our landscape. However, as budgets shrink and belts are tightened, we must be more creative in how we promote what we love, to continue to conserve and protect it.
Terms such as Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services are gradually gaining popularity and becoming more widely understood. We all know that the environment produces valuable resources and processes, such as clean air, water, food, and materials, utilised by humans. Now the time has come, when what we have often taken for granted must be marketed to the financial sector as worthy of investment.
In a recent publication on the economic, social and ecological value of ecosystem services, Defra explained that they “provide large scale benefits at several levels (local, regional and global) and to different groups (individuals, commercial firms and public bodies). Despite this, ecosystem services tend to be significantly undervalued by society. Reasons for this include a lack of adequate information and knowledge about ecosystem functions and the benefits they generate for society, and because no formal market for ecosystem services exists, meaning these services are not allocated a price that would give some indication of their economic value to society.”
These services support us in forming soil, nutrients and water, provide resources such as food, fuel and medicine, regulate our climate, disease and pests and give us spiritual enrichment, cognitive development, reflection, recreation and aesthetic experiences. Experts have costed these benefits at tens of trillions of pounds, a somewhat conservative estimate, as without them we should surely perish.
Nature may be ‘priceless’ but we must find a way to ensure its protection and secure funding to do so. The cost of not doing so is immeasurable, as Jeremy Pannell, Senior Corporate Finance Manager at Triodos Bank, Europe’s leading sustainable bank, points out in a recent blog:
“Natural capital investment can help address imbalances by funding the preservation and replenishment of our ecosystems. Low interest rates and demand from impact-driven investors are providing some much-needed momentum to the natural capital investment movement.”
With an eye to this movement, the Old Chalk New Downs Project will be offering training workshops on the subject of Ecosystem Services. These are primarily aimed at land owners, and area managers such as Parish Councillors, to improve their stewardship of the area’s natural heritage.
This will be done by improving their understanding of the ways that this natural heritage connects with the present and future needs and aspirations of the people of Kent. The aim will be to help participants identify practical responses to their understanding of this topic.
The first of these workshops will be held on February the 8th, 2018. For more details and to book a space please contact Hilary at firstname.lastname@example.org