This article was originally published on The Guardian
“The economic benefits of protecting nature-rich sites such as wetlands and woodlands outweigh the profit that could be made from using the land for resource extraction, according to the largest study yet to look at the value of protecting nature at specific locations.
Scientists analysed 24 sites in six continents and found the asset returns of “ecosystem services” such as carbon storage and flood prevention created by conservation work was, pound for pound, greater than manmade capital created by using the land for activities such as forestry or farming cereals, sugar, tea or cocoa.
The study, which was led by academics at Cambridge University with the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), suggests further modifying nature for human use could be costing society more than it benefits it, but these “natural capital” costs are often not taken into account by decision-makers.
It echoes the findings of a landmark review released last month by Prof Sir Partha Dasgupta, the Cambridge economist, which warned that the failure of economics to take into account the depletion of the natural world was putting the planet at “extreme risk”.”
How does it connect to capitals? This article focuses on the economic benefit of an intact and healthy natural environment. It highlights the impacts and dependencies of human and industry activity upon nature and emphasizes that failing to account for its value undermines economic prosperity and limits the flow of benefits – ecosystem services – from natural assets.