Can we put a value on biodiversity?

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Offline thedoc

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Can we put a value on biodiversity?
« on: 19/06/2012 18:29:26 »
A major seven year study has been launched in the UK to investigate the link between biodiversity and the services nature provides - such as food, clean air, water and flood protection....
Read a transcript of the interview by clicking here

« Last Edit: 19/06/2012 18:29:26 by _system »


Offline Don_1

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Re: Can we put a value on biodiversity?
« Reply #1 on: 20/06/2012 10:07:01 »
Can you put a value on biodiversity? In terms of 's $'s or 's I don't think so. It affects us in so many ways, from mankind as a whole to individuals, every day, that I think it would be incalculable.

Those reeds acting as breakers is just one of the many unseen and unrealised benefits. What of the spiders and insectivorous birds? Without them, we would be inundated with flies, mosquitoes, midges and so on. What would the cost be to regulate insect numbers without them? Could we even do it? And if we could, could we do it without harming other parts of nature? Some of those insects can be damn pests, but without them, could we pollinate our crops? Its not only bees that do that job. Its not just biodiversity that counts, its balance too.

That said, I am, nontheless, pleased that something is being done to bring this all important subject into the limelight. Perhaps it might persuade the short-sighted that we must protect the environment as a whole and that peace meal protection is just not good enough.
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Offline Mazurka

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Re: Can we put a value on biodiversity?
« Reply #2 on: 19/07/2012 16:49:20 »
This is a very interesting subject.

On one hand, there is a significant danger in comodifying the natural environment - because it potentially allows business to "pay to pollute" - if a company knows that the Government has set a price on something, it becomes easier to do the cost benefit analysis as to whether to break the law or not.  This is what happened with Sunday Trading - big DIY chains opened on a Sunday, knowing thatthere was a good chance that they would be fined for doing so.  If the profit they made due to opening was greater thant the maximum fine, it makes economic sense to do so.     

On the other hand, putting a value on things could help improve land management practices - e.g. a hill farmer being paid to manage land to maximise water retention to reduce flood risk may be considerably more cost effective than building "hard" flood defences further down stream.  It may also serve to reduce overstocking and have other nature conservation / landscape benefits.

Another issue is that the value of the natural environment is not confined to ecosystem services - there are (even) less tangible benefits for health (both physical and mental) that are provided...