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Biodiversity First Biodiversity Credit Standard to Evaluate Economic Benefits of Biodiversity

Source: UK Research and Innovation

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Seven new interdisciplinary studies can improve our understanding the significant economic value of biodiversity and how it underpins our economy. This can enable us to better manage our natural environment by directing investment to restore and conserve this vital natural resource.

Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive, including our food and clean water.
Biodiversity supports everything in nature that we need to survive, including our food and clean water.
(Source: Public Domain / Pixabay)

Though the UK has more than 70,000 species of animals, plants, fungi and micro-organisms, research has shown that the UK is also one of the world’s most nature depleted countries. Seven interdisciplinary studies have received a share of 6.4 million pounds from UK Research and Innovation to study seven key areas. They are meant to provide evidence for the world’s first biodiversity credit standard, test a new global approach to valuing natural habitats, and evaluate biodiversity in marine and urban areas.

They will:

  • inform the development of the world’s first biodiversity credit standards (similar to carbon credits) for valuing biodiversity for market trading and investment.
  • test a new international approach to valuing nature using woodland sites in Wales, Helsinki, and Tanzania, as well as exploring how the value of woodland can be integrated into natural capital accounts.
  • measure and map the acoustic properties of the UK’s natural soundscapes to better understand the value of nature to human mental health and well-being.
  • value biodiversity to urban areas and new developments by understanding its benefits in providing drainage and recreation while reducing pollution, noise and intense heat.
  • determine novel and robust economic, ecological and socio-cultural values of marine ecosystems, and embed these values in the co-development of green investment options including nutrient, carbon and biodiversity markets.
  • investigate whether ‘virtual labs’ coupled with decision-support frameworks, can help us understand the complex interactions needed to support biodiversity.
  • focus on ‘additionality’, a key goal of biodiversity policy stating that any intervention, be it a protected area, a performance-related payment or a biodiversity law, must provide additional biodiversity to what otherwise would have happened.

The studies are all part of Ukri’s Economics of Biodiversity programme and will help to deliver on the recommendations from the Government’s Dasgupta Review. The review found that values of biodiversity must be fully accounted for in economic and financial decision making to support nature recovery and halt biodiversity loss. The funding has been provided by UKRI’s Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Professor Sir Duncan Wingham, Executive Chair of NERC, said: “The Economics of Biodiversity programme will address critical gaps in our understanding of the economic and societal value and benefits of biodiversity. As governments work to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss at the COP27 climate conference and the forthcoming COP15 biodiversity conference, these Ukri-funded projects will support increased investment and improve management of biodiversity. They will help us protect our natural environment and Earth’s carefully balanced ecosystems.”

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