Jennifer Foulger, Aldeburgh Beach

A Natural Capital Approach

The natural environment provides us with many benefits we enjoy in our day-to-day lives, many of which we don’t fully appreciate. It can however, only do this if the environment is healthy and functional. The scale and rate at which we have been changing our environment, even in protected area, like AONB, is putting the functionality of the natural world at risk. This means the value we derive from our environment is threatened, potentially making our lives much poorer.

Whether we realise it or not, humans have always taken benefit from nature and we’ve used it to make our lives better. These benefits might be obvious - like fish from the sea, or timber from trees. More commonly however, it is very difficult to understand and value such benefits. This is because they are often indirect or require a combination of different processes to realise. It is because nature is difficult to value that it is often given a default value of zero when it comes to economic decision making, and so very often written off.

The idea behind the natural capital approach is to ensure the benefits we obtain from the natural environment are valued and can be accounted for in decision making. The natural capital theory states that if we can recognise the value of nature in our decision making we are much more likely to protect the function of nature that provides our benefit.

This logic underpins the Government’s plan for the leaving the natural environment in a better state in 25 years’ time that it is now. The Suffolk Marine Pioneer offers business, community and the public sector a chance to lead the way forward to a better, greener tomorrow.

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