This article was originally published on the Conversation


“Journalist and environmentalist George Monbiot recently wrote a powerful polemic against the concepts of ecosystem services and natural capital, arguing that they were leading us on a neoliberal “road to ruin”.

In many cases nature is ignored or trumped by other economic or social priorities, or seen as a barrier to growth to be overcome. Ecosystem services and natural capital help re-frame nature as an asset to society that delivers many benefits. Monbiot’s attack, therefore, is in danger of throwing out this natural asset baby with the “dirty” neoliberal bathwater.

The power of ecosystem services and natural capital concepts is that they break down and clarify what nature provides in economic terms. Value is revealed with respect to the benefits it provides to society. So, for example, city parks are more than just attractive green spaces. They improve air quality and help to minimise the heat island effect, they provide a natural health service for people to walk and relax. Their presence actually raises nearby house prices. If they are well designed they can also provide flood protection and improve biodiversity. All these factors contribute to the productive economy and, and so this provides, in theory, an economic incentive to protect them….”

Read on at: the Conversation.