UK National Ecosystem Assessment: the next phase
The UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA), published in June 2011, was the first analysis of the UK’s natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides to society and continuing economic prosperity.
Lucy Simpson of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment Secretariat outlines the two-year long follow-on phase of the UK NEA now underway to build the evidence base further, to widely communicate the messages and to inform new initiatives created as a result of the Natural Environment White Paper.
SD Scene publishes news and comment on sustainable development from across government, business and civil society. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect government policy.
The UK NEA has gained international recognition and is regarded as a significant step forward in our understanding of trends in the delivery of ecosystem services, the drivers of these trends and the likely consequences for human well-being. It delivered a wealth of information on the state, value (economic and social) and possible future of terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems across the UK. The key messages in the Synthesis Report concluded that:
“A move to sustainable development will require an appropriate mixture of regulations, technology, financial investment and education, as well as changes in individual and societal behaviour and adoption of a more integrated, rather than conventional sectoral, approach to ecosystem management.”
The Natural Environment White Paper, which drew heavily on the analysis carried out in the UK NEA, set out the Government’s policy on protecting and improving the natural environment, and committed to supporting “a further phase of ground-breaking research” to “investigate the mix of future actions most likely to secure the most benefits for nature and for people from our ecosystems”.
Funded by Defra, the Welsh Government and three Research Councils (the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council), the Follow-on phase commenced in February 2012. The overall goal of the project is to develop an improved evidence base to implement the ecosystem services paradigm within the ecosystems approach, and thereby facilitate more informed decision making.
A number of important scientific evidence gaps identified in the first phase of the UK NEA have formed the basis for the research component of the Follow-on phase. The four areas include:
- Further development of the economic analysis;
- Exploring cultural ecosystem services and cultural, shared and plural values;
- Further analysis of future ecosystem changes; and
- Reviewing and enhancing tools and supporting materials for use by a range of key user groups.
Communicating the findings
Communicating the messages of the UK NEA together with findings from the new research and making them applicable to decision and policy making at a range of organisational and spatial scales across the UK will be one of the key aims of the Follow-on phase.
Reporting in early 2014, the Follow-on phase will once more bring together experts from a wide variety of specialisms together with a broad range of stakeholders from the public, private and voluntary sectors. The enhanced knowledge base will provide some of the evidence needed for the new Natural Capital Committee, which aims to put natural capital at the heart of Government accounting.
- UK National Ecosystem Assessment: more details on the research being undertaken for the follow-on phase, opportunities for how to get involved in the project, synthesis / technical reports available to download
Do you have a comment on this page?
All comments are moderated: we will not publish irrelevant or inappropriate comments. Please note that we require your email to validate your message and will not publish it or use it for any other purpose.