Thursday, 4 June 2009

The Ecosystems Approach

Natural England has published a consultation seeking views on a draft policy document that
sets out the agency’s approach to ecosystems.

This is a complex concept that can be difficult to get your head around, but it is hear to stay
and we need to understand how it will guide the formation of policy. If you feel it is a gap in
your knowledge, Natural England’s document provides a very useful summary.

The valuation of ecosystem services presents an interesting challenge for economists. Some
might argue that this is like comparing apples with pears, but if values of different decisions
can be compared it informs the policy making process. For example, the paper includes an
estimate that it costs £128m to remove agricultural contaminants from drinking water in
England & Wales and perhaps we should be comparing this cost with the financial benefits to
agriculture arising from the contaminants. I did not say it was easy!

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