Nature's worth it

Tuesday 23rd August 2011

Image credit: Amy LewisImage credit: Amy Lewis

The Wildlife Trusts welcome two research reports published today by the Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs (Defra) which outline the benefits of protecting wildlife and habitats.

One report has assessed the economic value of Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs). A separate report assesses the economic value of actions being taken for wildlife habitats and species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan. It also demonstrates the role of wildlife conservation in delivering services such as climate and water regulation.

Brian Eversham, spokesperson for The Wildlife Trusts, said:

“The Wildlife Trusts welcome the acknowledgement of the role SSSIs play within ecological networks, and the ecosystem services they provide, such as carbon storage and flood alleviation. It’s also encouraging to see the assertion that there could be considerable benefits for people and wildlife to bringing more SSSIs into favourable condition. There is plenty of evidence that giving people access to high quality wildlife-rich habitats is good for their physical and mental health.

“SSSIs are an essential part of our vision for A Living Landscape. Together with areas such as nature reserves and Local Wildlife Sites, they form oases of healthy habitat within the wider landscape. In order to secure nature’s recovery, we need to ensure these oases are in good condition, are growing in size, and being connected. Government has recognised the importance of this landscape-scale approach within its Natural Environment White Paper (NEWP) and the England Biodiversity Strategy (EBS). We hope today’s reports will further highlight the need for adequate protections to be in place for wildlife-rich areas. Government should seek to safeguard these protections as it drives forward the ambitions of the NEWP.

Brian Eversham continued:
“The Wildlife Trusts recognise the value of the natural environment to people and the economy and, more specifically, the need to create an environment in which wildlife can thrive. The natural environment provides essential goods and services upon which we all depend. These range from fundamental human needs - food, water, clean air, to economic and social benefits. There is a growing recognition of this, reflected in reports such as those published today, and the National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA).

“It’s clear this recognition stretches beyond Government and NGOs – there is a willingness among the general public to support nature’s recovery. The Wildlife Trusts believe this recognition of nature’s value should be embedded into policy across Government. The impacts on, and opportunities for securing, healthy functioning ecosystems should be considered within decision-making at all levels.”

1. The two reports: The Benefits of Sites of Special Scientific Interest in England and Wales and Economic valuation of the benefits of ecosystem services delivered by the UK Biodiversity Action Plan, are available to download from the Defra website


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