New tools developed to capture the full value of nature
UK researchers provide new information and tools to help decision-makers in Government, local authorities, land managers and businesses to understand the wider values of our ecosystems and what they offer us. In 2011 UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) concluded that the natural world and its ecosystems are important to our well-being and economic prosperity. Yet they have been consistently undervalued in conventional economic analyses and decision making. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment Follow-On (UK NEAFO) project was commissioned to address this problem. The project has developed a range of tools for decision makers to make use of the research from the UKNEA and has carried out new research to understand and capture the shared cultural values of the natural environment.
Our interactions with natural spaces can be experienced in a number of ways; we might take a stroll in a woodland or picnic with friends in a park. Previously it has been difficult for land managers to capture what value people place on these experiences outside of the monetary value.
This new research found that by using a range of approaches we can understand the strength and depth of feelings that people hold about a natural space. By understanding an individual's spiritual connection, identity and the aesthetic values that they place on nature, land managers will be able to have much fuller picture of the total value of the decisions that they make in financial terms and the value that people place on these decisions.
The findings and tools developed from the UK NEAFO project provides a useful resource for policy-makers and practitioners with advice on which methods and tools are best for a given situation, how they should be used, and in which combination.
Natural Environment Minister Lord de Mauley said:
This has been a truly productive partnership with the Research Councils. A healthy and resilient natural environment underpins our economy and wellbeing. This research is an important step forward in our efforts to reflect the value of nature more widely in decision-making.
The UK NEAFO has been a collaborative effort between the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Welsh Government.
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Notes to editors
- The main report and background technical reports for each work package will be published can be found on the UKNEA website.
- The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. www.ahrc.ac.uk
- The ESRC funds research into the big social and economic questions facing us today. We also develop and train the UK's future social scientists. Our research informs public policies and helps make businesses, voluntary bodies and other organisations more effective. Most importantly, it makes a real difference to all our lives. The ESRC is an independent organisation, established by Royal Charter in 1965, and funded mainly by the Government.http://www.esrc.ac.uk
- NERC is the UK's main agency for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental sciences. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We co-ordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects, tackling major issues such as climate change, environmental influences on human health, the genetic make-up of life on Earth, and much more. NERC is a non-departmental public body. We receive around £370m of annual funding from the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS).http://www.nerc.ac.uk