Researchers publish evidence supporting natural capital valuation

The Valuing Nature Programme last week published four new reports that could help water companies as well as other businesses and government to take an evidence-based approach to natural capital valuation.

The reports summarise the science available, identify evidence gaps and make recommendations for further collaborative action by government, business and academia in four key areas:

  • The natural capital valuation of floodplains in relation to preventing floods, storing carbon, and supporting biodiversity.

  • The natural capital valuation of soil in relation to producing food, storing carbon and regulating water supply.

  • Natural capital trade-offs from the afforestation of peatlands in relation to the effect on storing carbon, controlling water supply, supporting biodiversity, providing recreational spaces and preserving a record of the past.

  • How businesses are using natural capital assessments in practice.

A fifth report, on the natural capital of temporary rivers, has already been published, highlighting their varied benefits including supporting biodiversity plus drought and flood control.

The concept of natural capital lies at the heart of the UK government’s recently published 25 Year Environment Plan and is set to play an increasingly influential role in public policy and business decision-making.

The Valuing Nature Programme is a five-year, £7m initiative funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and DEFRA. Its aim is to improve understanding of the value of nature both in non-economic and economic terms, and to improve the use of these valuations in decision making. Co-ordinated by a multidisciplinary team and led by the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, it funds research and also support researchers in making links with policymakers, businesses and practitioners through the Valuing Nature Network.