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The Natural Environment White Paper 2011

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The UK National Ecosystem Assessment Professor Andrew Church University of Brighton . [email protected] UK National Ecosystem Assessment 2011 The national level analysis of the natural environment in terms of the benefits that it provides people.

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UK National Ecosystem Assessment 2011The national level analysis of the natural environment in terms of the benefits that it provides people.

Ecosystem – a dynamic complex of plant, animal and micro-organisms communities and their non-living environment interacting as a functional unit

Ecosystem services – The benefits people obtain from ecosystems

the natural environment white paper 2011
The Natural Environment White Paper 2011
  • Evidence base – the UK National Ecosystem Assessment
  • Joining up the Government’s environmental monitoring, to enhance understanding the of ecosystem services
national planning policy framework 2012
National Planning Policy Framework 2012

The planning system should contribute to and enhance the natural and local environment by:

recognising the wider benefits of ecosystem services;


UK NEA Conceptual Framework


*Note that the term good(s) includes all use and non-use, material and non-material benefits from ecosystems that have value for people.


Building on the Millenium Ecosystem Assessment

Air, land, water, and all living organisms


Places (e.g: Broad Habitats) where biological, chemical and physical interactions occur.

In terrestrial habitats these include above and below ground processes


The benefits people get from ecosystems

Provisioning services

Crops, Livestock, Game, Fisheries, Water supply, Wild species diversity (genetic resources)

Regulating services

Climate regulation, Detoxification & Purification, Disease/pest control Pollination

Cultural services

Environmental settings (gardens, parks , landscapes)

Wild species diversity


“the integrated management of land, water and

living resources that promotes conservation

and sustainable use in an equitable way”

Convention on Biological Diversity

Supporting services

Necessary for the delivery of other ecosystem services

Soil formation, Nutrient cycling, Water cycling, Primary production


Present challenges

  • 30% of services are in decline or a degraded state
    • Soil condition – fundamental to productivity and biodiversity – degraded
    • Pollinators are declining
    • Marine fish catches are low + ecological impact of fisheries

Responding to the challenges

  • But ecosystem services are consistently undervalued in economic analysis and decision making
  • Therefore the UK NEA explored:
    • How and why the economic value of ecosystem services should be incorporated into decision making
    • Importance of considering both market and non-market goods, and at different spatial scales

Case study: rural land use in Wales

    • Potential economic value of conversion from farming to multi-purpose woodland
natural england ecosystem services pilots
Natural England Ecosystem Services Pilots

Three pilot areas each run regionally with technical aspects being coordinated nationally

uk nea follow on phase 2012 14
UK NEA Follow on phase 2012-14
  • The overall aim to further develop and communicate the evidence base of the UK NEA and make it relevant to decision and policy making at different spatial scales across the UK.
  • Further development of the economic analysis of the UK NEA.
uk nea follow on phase 2012 141
UK NEA Follow on phase 2012-14
  • Further exploration of cultural ecosystem services and cultural, shared and plural values for ecosystem services
  • Analysis of future ecosystem changes, applying and developing the UK NEA scenarios
  • The development and enhancement of tools and other supporting materials for use by a range of key user groups from the public, private and voluntary sectors




Advocacy - Plausible Future Scenarios

How might ecosystems and their services in the UK change in the future under plausible scenarios? Changes in land use and greenspace?

nea urban greenspace amenity scenario analysis
NEA Urban Greenspace amenity scenario analysis
  • 3 categories city parks, the urban/rural fringe and informal greenspace.
  • Meta analysis of existing studies to generate value function
  • Analysis of UK urban centres – proximity to homes and percentage land cover
  • Change in greenspace land cover from NEA scenarios
  • Use value functions and summing process for valuations of greenspace under scenarios

Responding to the challenges

  • Substantial change in values with different levels of ecosystem service provision
  • Importance of including valuation of non-market goods in decision making
changes in the past 60 years
Changes in the past 60-years
  • Gains in production have impacted on other ecosystems and ecosystem services:
    • 90% decline in semi-natural grasslands (through conversion)
    • Fertiliser run-off impacted aquatic systems
    • Coniferous forest plantations at the expense of other habitats
present challenges future outlook
Present challenges & future outlook
  • UK is, and will likely remain an active trading nation – trading in products of ecosystem services
  • 2008: imported 50m tonnes biomass
  • Significant overseas ecological footprint
  • Influenced by social, economic and ecological changes elsewhere
governance of the uk nea
Governance of the UK NEA
  • 27 member Expert Panel (natural and social scientists, economists)
  • 2 Co-chairsof the Expert Panel: Bob Watson (Defra Chief Scientist) and Steve Albon (Macaulay Institute)
  • 12 member Client Group (funders)
  • 26 member User Group (agencies, NGOs, private sector, other government departments)
  • The assessment team: with ~400 authors, led by a team of Coordinating Lead Authors (CLAs)
  • A Secretariatbased at UNEP-WCMC

Moving forward

  • A move towards a sustainable future will require:
    • Changes to individual and societal behaviour
    • Adopting an integrated approach to ecosystems management
      • Appropriate mix of regulations, technology, financial investment and education (i.e. multiple responses)
      • Range of actors and collaborations: government, private sector, voluntary organizations, civil society at large
      • Addressing issues at a range of spatial and temporal scales

Moving forward

  • UK NEA has identified that there are still knowledge gaps, uncertainty and controversy in our evidence
  • However, has also demonstrated:
    • Have sufficient understanding to start managing ecosystems more sustainably
    • Social benefits of such management

NEA Valuing health goods linked to environmental settings

Mourato et al. 2011 – New primary data

  • Questionnaire survey on interactions between environmental settings and health.
  • A geographically referenced quota survey of 1,851 respondents
  • Statistically significant relations between health measures of physical functioning/emotional well being and the use of the environmental settings of domestic gardens and local green spaces.
  • Respondents who at least once a month visit non-countryside green spaces, such as urban parks, report significantly better health on both measures compared to those who do not.
  • As do respondents who at least once a week spend time in their garden

NEA Valuing health goods linked to environmental settings

Mourato et al. 2011 - Scenario valuation with existing data

  • A change in natural habitats that causes a 1 percentage point reduction in sedentary behaviour - total benefit of almost £2 billion (using WTP-based values), across the three physical conditions (CHD, colo-rectal cancer and stroke) and the mental health condition considered (stress and anxiety)
  • Value of health goods linked to some environmental setting likely to be high

NEA Valuing health goods linked to environmental settings

Key challenges arising from NEA and other analysis

  • Causality between physical exercise and greenspace is likely to be bi-directional
  • A recent large scale study of nearly 5,000 Dutch people by Maas et al. (2008) found that the amount of greenspace in people’s living environment has little influence on their level of physical activity.
  • Uncertainty of benefits of outdoor exercise relative to indoor exercise (Thompson Coon et al. 2011)

NEA Valuing health goods linked to environmental settings

Key challenges arising from NEA and other analysis

  • “no conclusive evidence on the strength of the relationship between the amount of green space and the level of physical activity..not possible to accurately value, at the present time, the health benefits of created exercise due to additional green space provision” Mourato et al.2010