Monday, April 15, 2024



Natural Environment White Paper

Published in June 2011, 'The Natural Choice' outlines the Government’s vision for the natural environment over the next 50 years, backed up with practical action to deliver that ambition.

The paper drew heavily on the analysis carried out in the UK NEA and made a commitment to carry out follow up work to “investigate the mix of future actions most likely to secure the most benefits from nature and for people from our ecosystems... [and to] develop practical tools to assist decision makers in applying the lessons of the NEA”.

The White Paper - one year on

The event 'Securing the value of nature at home and abroad' was held on in July 2012 to mark one year since the publication of the 'The Natural Choice'.

Defra has also reviewed progress towards meeting the paper's measures to take into account the value of nature in decision making.

Background documents

Ash, N. et al. (2010) Ecosystems and Human Well-being: A Manual for Assessment Practitioners. Island Press, Washington DC

Balmford, A., Rodrigues, A.S.L., Walpole, M., ten Brink, P., Kettunen, M., Braat, L. and de Groot.,R. (2008) The Economics of Biodiversity and Ecosystems: Scoping the Science. Cambridge, UK: European Commission

Defra (2007) Securing a Healthy Natural Environment: An Action Plan for Embedding an Ecosystems Approach.

Defra (2005) An introductory guide to valuing eco-system services.

Carpenter, Bennett and Peterson (2006) Scenarios for Ecosystem Services: An Overview. Ecology and Society 11 (1): 29

Carpenter, S.R. et al. (2009) Science for managing ecosystem services: Beyond the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106:1305–1312.

Fisher, B. et al. (2008) Integrating Ecosystem Services and Economic Theory. Ecological Applications 18(8), 2050-2067.

Haines-Young, R., Fish, R., Potschin, M., Brown, C., Tindall, C. and Walmsley, S. (2008) Scoping the potential benefits of undertaking an MA-style assessment for England. Full Technical Report to Defra (Project Code NR0118).

Haines-Young, R. & Potschin, M. (2010) Methodological Options for Developing NEA Scenarios. NEA Scenario Review Paper

Rounsevell, M. and Metzger, M. (in press) Qualitative scenarios and storylines in environmental change assessment. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change 1(4), 606-619.

House of Commons Environmental Audit (2007) The UN Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. First Report of Session 2006-7; HC77, 58 pp.

Royal Society (2009) Ecosystem Services and biodiversity in Europe: building science into policy at EU level. EASAC Policy Report 09.

Journal papers

Watson, R.T. The science–policy interface: the role of scientific assessments—UK National Ecosystem Assessment. Proceedings of the Royal Society A. Available online 5 July.

This paper discusses the science–policy interface, emphasizing the role of evidence and scientific assessments.

Firbank, L., Bradbury, R.B., McCracken, D.I. & Stoate, C. Delivering multiple ecosystem services from Enclosed Farmland in the UK. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment. Available online 17 February 2012.

This study reviews the delivery of ecosystem services from enclosed farmland in the UK, and explores how the expected demand for ecosystem services might be met in the future.

Mace, G.M., Norris, K. & Fitter, A.H. Biodiversity and ecosystem services: a multilayered relationship. Trends in Ecology & Evolution, Volume 27, Issue 1, 19-26, 22 September 2011.

Using the widely accepted Convention on Biological Diversity definition of biodiversity and work for the UK National Ecosystem Assessment we show that biodiversity has key roles at all levels of the ecosystem service hierarchy: as a regulator of underpinning ecosystem processes, as a final ecosystem service and as a good that is subject to valuation, whether economic or otherwise.

Bateman, I.J., Mace, G.M., Fezzi, C., Atkinson, G. & Turner, K. (2011) Economic analysis for ecosystem service assessments. Environmental and resource economics, 48 (2). pp. 177-218. ISSN 0924-6460.

The paper seeks to contribute to the expanding literature on ecosystem service assessment by considering its integration with economic analyses of such services.


Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Reports:

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) (2003) Ecosystems and human well-being: a framework for assessment. Island Press, Washington, D.C., USA. 

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Overview Brochure
This 2-page brochure briefly describes the assessment and the main findings.

Global Assessment Reports

Synthesis Reports

Living Beyond Our Means: Natural Assets and Human Well-being
This statement was developed by the MA Board and identifies 10 key messages and conclusions that can be drawn from the assessment.


Articles referring to the UK NEA

April 2012

LWEC. National Ecosystem Assessment achieves international impact

Read how the UK NEA is continuing to generate international interest and is proving influential in the way other nations approach their own assessments.

March 2010

British Ecological Society. Bulletin - Understanding nature's value to society in the UK article

This issue, dedicated to Ecosystem Services and the Ecosystem Approach, includes an article by Lucy Simpson (UK NEA Secretariat) and provides an overview of the two-year long assessment process.

December 2009

British Science Association. People & Science magazine - Costing the Earth article.

Ahead of 2010, the International Year of Biodiversity, Bob Watson (Joint Co-Chair of the UK NEA) explains why we need to engage the public in valuing our natural environment and introduces the UK National Ecosystem Assessment.

June 2009

Alison Holt and Caroline Hattam. Capitalizing on nature: how to implement an ecosystem approach. Biology Letters (2009) 5, 580-582

Meeting report from the Natural Capital Initiative's first conference 'Valuing our life support systems'.


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