"We have under-valued our natural resources. Valuing them properly will enable better decision making, more certain investment new avenues to wealth creation and jobs and greater human wellbeing in changing times ahead" (Lord Selborn in the National Ecosystems Assessment). As such the Natural Environment White Paper (June 2011) calls for the UK to be a global pioneer in implementing the ecosystem services approach.
Coherent environmental management is key to the ecosystems approach and strong interdisciplinary collaboration between sectors, working at larger scales and joining up across the landscape will be necessary. This will also draw on the Government’s ambitions around the Big Society, with close interaction of governments and stakeholders at the local and national level.
Questions remain, however, regarding the political tractability of ecosystems services. Such a paradigm shift is likely to prove difficult to implement and will inevitably be met with some resistance. Challenges include the effective communication of the importance of ecosystems services, and their complexities, in order to reach a widespread recognition of the true value of ecosystem services, preventing conflicts between business and the environment and encouraging engagement. However this is complicated by current knowledge gaps, in particular monitoring and evaluating the impacts of ecosystem services on society. Another challenge is linking long and short-term goals.
Critical to making progress in this area are the practical tools and good practice examples that are currently being developed to assist decision makers in applying the lessons of the NEA. This is in addition to establishing appropriate governance arrangements to deliver within an ecosystems approach, and extracting the key messages to be communicated and acted on from the NEA and Natural Environment White Paper.
The invitation-only workshop will bring together key researchers and policy-makers to discuss the challenges and opportunities.
The workshop will be held in London on 1st May, beginning at 16:45 with a chaired round-table discussion and continuing over a working dinner (ending at 21:15). The workshop will be chaired by CSaP Policy Fellow Dr. Miles Parker from Defra.