Putting a price on nature: An ERM guide to ecosystem services
05 January 2011
How do we value nature? How should companies go about their business in such a way that they manage, protect and where possible enhance the natural resources available to them?
These questions are at the heart of a new and emerging business focus on ecosystems and on the ecosystem services which support individuals, business and wider society. This ERM guide provides an introduction to ecosystem services, the potential risks and opportunities they offer to business and their growing relevance to our clients in a number of sectors.
Introducing ecosystems services
Ecosystem services can be defined as the benefits people and companies derive from ecosystems. They are the delivery mechanism arising from nature’s capital and can cover everything from access to freshwater to climate regulation and the enjoyment of a view.
Increasingly these services are seen to have an economic value - to individuals, to business and to wider society. For their part, a growing number of companies understand that they are getting certain services effectively 'for free' from natural habitats. These ‘ecosystem services’ include:
- Provisioning Services
(what nature delivers) such as food, fibre, water and genetic resources.
- Regulating Services
(what nature does) such as natural flood and drought protection, climate control and protection against disease.
- Cultural Services
(non material benefits) such as recreational, aesthetic, spiritual and religious benefits.
- Supporting Services
(in support of the first three) such as primary production, soil formation and nutrient recycling.
Ultimately, ecosystem services which can be of such benefit to people and companies
are underpinned by biodiversity, the diversity of habitats, organisms and genes that make up life on earth. As successive statistics and international summits highlight the seriousness of biodiversity
decline, the issues of how ecosystems services are accessed and valued will become increasingly important.
Download and read the full booklet: Putting a price on nature: An ERM guide to ecosystem services (1MB PDF)