The UK national ecosystem assessment is out!

The UK National Ecosystem Assessment was finalized and is being published on-line.

Started mid 2009, the assessment led by Robert Watson and Steve Albon, it is the first analysis of the UK’s natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides to society and continuing economic prosperity.

The key findings of the assessment were made available on June 2nd (pdf here) while specific technical chapters will be made available through June.

Until then the 87 pages of the synthesis report should keep you busy! Below are some of the main points raised by the assessment:

The authors mention the need to increase food production while at the same time decreasing its negative effects on ecosystem services. In fact, the idea is to harness ecosystem services to actually increase production. This “sustainable intensification” is what the French call “ecological intensification”.

Reversing declines in ecosystem services will require the adoption of more resilient ways of managing ecosystems, and a better balance between production and other ecosystem services – one of the major challenges is to increase food production, but with a smaller environmental footprint through sustainable intensification.

Not surprisingly, the assessment also raises the issue of ecosystem services being undervalued in decision making and the suggested solution is to take into account the monetary and non monetary values of ecosystems in every-day decision making.

Contemporary economic and participatory techniques allow us to take into account the monetary and non-monetary values of a wide range of ecosystem services.

The assessment use six contrasting scenarios to explore alternative futures for ecosystem services in the UK.

The six scenarios used in the UK national ecosystem assessment

Choose yours!

It is also worth noticing that the assessment’s conceptual framework seems to focus on the “goods” that depend (at least in part) on ecosystem services as the linkage between ecosystems and human well-being. A more in-depth look into the figure below shows that in fact, the authors have grouped under the label “goods” all use and non-use, material and non-material benefits from ecosystems that have value for people.

The conceptual framework of the UK national ecosystem assessment

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