City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

It's Official! Nature Worth More Than We Thought!

By edg - Posted on 07 June 2011

Leave it to the wonks at DEFRA to come up with an answer to one of life's imponderables: what is the true value of nature? The short answer, outlined in a new report entitled the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, is that "nature is worth billions of pounds to the UK economy."

What's more, the ministry tells us, nature is worth more than we previously thought: "The benefits we get to our health, well being and from the enjoyment of nature have not always been fully appreciated or valued," it tells us.

If this sounds to you all a bit like counting coffee spoons, then you're not the only one. We are taking monetarism beyond the levels of its usefulness. Commoditising nature doesn't just demean it, but as Guardian columnist George Monbiot argues "it delivers the natural world into the hands of those who would destroy it".

The report's authors themselves note the shortcomings of their monetarist presumptions. Unless we are observed using nature in some way it can't be priced.

"An example of this might be the spiritual value of the environment, especially where this is linked solely to the knowledge of pristine or intact environments," the authors note.

And secondly, the report doesn't fully take into account sustainability. The authors note: "there is a significant dearth of information on the size of stocks and, equally importantly, how they may deplete as economic activity changes."

So Nature (UK) could be worth more than the report suggests, and as it depletes, rise still further in monetary value.

Unless you share the government's faith in radical cost-benefit analysis, it's difficult to see this approach offering much in the way of environmental protection.