Says the British report:
No Charge? looks at a range of natural “ecosystem services” – such as healthy soils, clean water, carbon storage, and flood prevention - that underpin economic growth and deliver natural solutions to 21st century problems. Together they generate billions of pounds of hidden value to the UK economy each year, far outweighing the costs required to sustain them in a healthy, functioning state. For example:
* Environmental Stewardship schemes enable farmers to reduce carbon emissions from agriculture by 3.5m tonnes per year – over a 7 year period this could lead to a carbon saving to the UK economy of approximately £1.25 billion.
* Improved management of peatlands would help prevent approximately 3-5 million tonnes of carbon being lost into the atmosphere each year: a loss that is equal to the annual carbon cost of all the UK’s domestic aviation.
* Our woodlands already remove 15 million tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere, reducing the UK’s annual CO2 emissions by 3%. Relatively small investment in woodland management could yield very large economic gains once these carbon benefits are properly factored in.
* Green spaces transform city life, cooling our cities, filtering out pollutants and having a startling impact on the activity levels of local people. Increasing the exercise levels of just 1 per cent of the UK’s population would deliver nearly £1.5bn in health care savings.
* There is huge potential to deliver economic gains from better management of our seas, where substantial public subsidies in the past have contributed to alarming levels of environmental degradation. A network of Marine Conservation Zones – set up to ensure more sustainable management of the marine environment – has the potential to deliver benefits of up to £19 billion.
The more we look, the more we realize how the conservation value of ecosystems is just staggering. As humans disrupt ecosystem services, we pay dearly. Take for example how human activities have so diminished the abundance of native pollinators that farmers now need to pay beekeepers to bring in bees to pollinate their crops! And that's just the beginning...
We'll keep you posted on the latest and best programs that leverage conservation value to maintain both ecosystem services and human well-being.