Valuing Nature

16 Jul 2013

Forest & Bird’s strategic plan includes a priority for an ecologically sustainable economy. We think that valuing nature will be a really important part of this work.

Valuing nature can mean different things to different people. Nature has lots of different types of value, ranging from intrinsic to economic.

At the very least, we need to recognise nature’s profound social, cultural and economic importance, to all of our lives.

In July 2013, Forest & Bird attended Victoria University’s Valuing Nature Conference, which looked at leading ‘valuing nature’ examples from overseas, building towards likely similar initiatives in New Zealand. Much work has been done in the UK, by the UK Ecosystem Assessment and TEEB.

One aspect of the work is about natural capital accounting, and expressing businesses’ environmental footprint as an economic cost - making nature visible, within our economy.

In other contexts, people may “reveal their preferences” for nature - for example, by paying more for an apartment with a view of Central Park, than a similar apartment a couple of streets away.

There are other values, that can’t be quantified in economic terms.

In the end, what we need to confront in our economy are ideas about growth - and cultural ideas, about our own place in the scheme of things. But economically measuring our dependencies on nature, and our costs, will be an important part.

More Information

•    Read Conservation Advocate Claire Browning’s blog: Valuing Nature: Priceless
•    The conference website
•    The TEEB website
•    The UK National Ecosystem Assessment
•    The UK government white paper The Natural Choice
•    Geoff Bertram’s paper done for Forest & Bird Green border control: issues at the environment/economy border -