Deal With IT's Secretary Victoria Nicholls writes a regular column in the East Kent Mercury
It is difficult to think of the natural world in terms of monetary value - in economist speak this is ‘natural capital’. Our ecosystems supply us with a vast range of services and benefits and as such could be considered as similar to financial wealth and so are referred to as natural capital.
Nature provides goods and services such as the capture and storage of carbon dioxide by natural forests and soils; the output of the oceans; the microorganisms putting goodness into our soils; the growth of plants and the release of oxygen through photosynthesis; the protection of populated areas by coastal wetlands and much more. Norway is a country rich in oil and it has used that oil money for the public good by giving $1 billion each to Indonesia and Brazil to encourage them to reduce their rate of deforestation. We can hardly expect our present government to do similar but in 2011 it did publish a National Ecosystem Assessment. This report documented how nature provides a wide range of vital benefits to the UK and how they give huge economic value.
For example, £1.1 million per year has been estimated as the amount achieved in benefit from improved river water quality and the value of the carbon taken up by UK woodlands is about £690 million per year.
There is no reason why businesses cannot develop strategies that value and protect natural capital and the government has a wide range of options to implement them.