This article was originally published on Horticulture Week.
“The availability of conceptual tools for valuing services provided by trees and woodlands remains patchy, according to a report published by the Forestry Commission. The study identifies trees’ role in water quality and availability, flood alleviation, biodiversity and physical and mental health as areas where further evidence is most needed for these functions to be fully valued.
“A substantial evidence base has developed, particularly in relation to (trees’ role in) open-access recreation and climate change mitigation,” while “a firmer evidence base is also emerging for their contribution to improving air quality”, the authors, from the University of Exeter, state.
But to address the evidence gaps they identify, the authors propose viewing nature as a “natural factory” contributing to economic outcomes, with trees seen as a form of capital enabling production processes. They add that the benefits of trees and woodlands on farms, such as shelter, soil stabilisation and pollinator habitat, have been poorly quantified and “biophysical data are lacking on the impacts of woodlands on agricultural production”.
With ongoing concern over the impact of exotic pests and diseases on UK tree stocks, there is a “substantial need” for better economic evidence of how these impact on timber yield, carbon sequestration and the quality of other ecosystem services, they add…”
Read on at: Horticulture Week.