April 12, 2021

UK report recognises the need for policies to meet the costs of ecological damage

Ecological Damage in the UK and Ireland

The new Economics of Biodiversity report has been released as Ireland faces several ecological challenges as highlighted by the National Biodiversity Forum. The report is the first study of its kind to be sponsored at such as significant financial level, with considerable information to support the UK implement new measures to tackle climate change.

The report emphasises that we are deeply embedded with nature and dependent on its services, but suggests we are continuing to exploit assets in a continued focus on economic growth. The report highlights that we need to put more value on our natural assets and recognise the hidden costs related to ecological damage.

George Monbiot, columnist of the Guardian explains that the concept that nature exists to serve us, its value is based on the benefits we can extract and that this value can be determined in terms of financial gain have proved to be catastrophic to life on Earth.

The report explores in depth the idea and problem of putting a price on nature. The true importance of nature is based on an existing value and worth that we need to share. There are even legal studies that suggest implementing ‘wild laws’, providing rights to plans, animal and ecosystems.

The natural world is our most precious asset and governments need to find ways of protecting it, through investments in land, our oceans and ensuring that nature lies at the core of all economic plans. This concept has begun to emerge in new measures such as the Gross Ecosystem Product in China and the Living Standards Framework in New Zealand. The report urges more transformative changes globally in terms of our attitude towards nature on a scale equivalent to the economic Marshall Plan that proceeded the 2nd World War.

The report highlights that it’s more cost-efficient to be conserving nature, rather than restoring it. Protected areas require adequate funding for management, a factor that resonates with the new report released from the National Biodiversity Forum of Ireland.

Taking a closer look at the existing Biodiversity Action Plan 2017-2021, there is a general declining trend and loss of animal and plant species. Around two-thirds of wild bee species are now threatened with extinction and 85% of internationally important habitats are now regarded as unfavourable. One main cause for this decline is related to the political failure to fund the National Parks and Wildlife Service and ensure that policies are working directly with nature, rather than against it. 

As the latest report suggests, we rarely appreciate the value of regulating and maintenance services, until they disappear.