Services

Ecosystems Services

Ecosystems Services provide food, energy, materials, flood defences, carbon sequestration, drinking water and clean fresh air. The natural processes help to regulate our climate, reduce flood risk and enable pollination of crops. Culturally, some of the UK’s finest landscapes ensure economic versatility, artistic inspiration and stages for open air recreation together with its essential health benefits. In short these services can be thought of as provisioning, regulating and supporting. These services hold a common characteristic: they are all considered free services and have limited or no monetary value in a traditional economic sense.

Led by the internationally ground breaking Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (2005), which provided an analysis of the Earth’s ecosystems and their relationship with human well-being and consumption, the UK government embarked on comprehensive programme of research to explore and better understand the role of ecosystem services in the UK. Structurally, this is enshrined in the natural environment white paper (2011), “the Natural Choice: securing the value of nature” and its sister research framework, the National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA, 2011). A third key structural driver is the Lawton review (2010) “Making Space for Wildlife” which recognises that our natural world is not a luxury: it is fundamental to our well-being, health and economy. Together, this three pillared focus recognises that the natural environment provides us with a range of ecosystem services and the fact that biodiversity underpins most, if not all, of them. The pressures on the UK’s land and water are likely to continue to increase and it is vital that we learn how to manage these resources in ways which deliver multiple benefits, for example, achieving profitable and productive farming while also adopting practices which enhance carbon storage, improve flood water management and support wildlife. Urban Edge Environmental Consulting is committed to the principles of ecosystem services and has conducted research and practice into this intriguing, essential and developing science.