Anne Miller

Dr Anne Miller

Associate Director - Research

Environmental Sustainability Knowledge Transfer Network


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New tools allow us to put economic value to Nature's 'free' services


Exciting times at Defra!

Today saw the launch  of the UK's National Ecosystem Assessment, a ground-breaking project which has developed a set of tools that will allow many of Nature's 'free' services to be given economic values, opening up the possibility of such services appearing on national (and business) balance sheets for the first time.


Caroline Spelman (Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,) and, significantly, Oliver Letwin (Minister of State for Policy) were both on hand to welcome this report and spoke very highly of how it will be utilised to direct Government's forthcoming policy developments, starting with the Natural Environment White Paper which is due out shortly, followed by the Water White paper.


The report draws on the expertise of hundreds of UK scientists and demonstrates that Nature is worth billions of pounds to the UK economy, as well as providing a wide array of other benefits e.g. contributions to health and social well-being. 


Defra say of the report:

'The assessment provides values for a range of ecosystem services to help us fully understand the value of the natural environment and how the benefits to individuals and society as a whole can be better protected and preserved for future generations.

Examples include:

The benefits that inland wetlands bring to water quality are worth up to £1.5billion per year to the UK

Pollinators are worth £430million per year to British agriculture

The amenity benefits of living close to rivers, coasts and other wetlands is worth up to£1.3billion per year to the UK

The health benefits of living with a view of a green space are worth up to £300 per person per year.

The UK NEA shows that the tendency to focus only on the market value of resources we can use and sell, such as timber, crops and fisheries, has led to the decline of some ecosystems and habitats through pollution, over-exploitation, and land conversion.'


All of the documents that contributed to this assessment as well as a summary report are available to download at:



Defra's Chief Scientist, Prof. Bob Watson, who co-chaired the UK NEA says 

“There is an urgent need to better manage our ecosystems and the natural resources they provide us with. But until now there has been no clear way of valuing the full range of benefits they provide beyond what we can buy and sell. The UK NEA introduces groundbreaking approaches to measure the value of these services and how they will be affected in future if we do not make the right choices now.

“The NEA shows that we need a more integrated approach to ecosystem management, involving Government, the private sector, voluntary groups and the public working together to protect the services nature provides”


Industry and Business will be a key part of taking this forward, so ESKTN will be carrying out project work in this area, aiming to engage everyone in our community: so keep watching here for more details!


Watch Prof. Bob Watson explain more at:



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