Assessing the United Kingdom's ecosystems

Informing decision-making on ecosystem management

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The Challenge

Ecosystems have not always been taken into account by policymakers, and the essential services they deliver have often been undervalued. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA), published in 2011, was an important milestone in providing the necessary data and analysis for the full value of ecosystem services to be recognized. Alongside its wealth of findings, however, it also identified several gaps in the knowledge base, particularly concerning the economic analysis of ecosystem services.

The NEA also put forward a series of evidence-based arguments about ecosystem management. In order to influence decision-making processes, these arguments must be accessible and applicable to a wide range of stakeholders across the UK.

Our solution & impact

UNEP-WCMC is hosting the Secretariat of a two-year UK NEA Follow-On phase (UK NEAFO). Launched in 2012, this collaborative effort between experts from a wide variety of specialism’s aims to help address important gaps in scientific evidence, as well as meeting the practical challenges of making information accessible to decision makers. A team of Principal Investigators, whose work is organized across four thematic areas, is currently:

  • working to develop the economic analysis of the UK NEA to understand how the value of natural capital can be better represented in national wealth accounts
  • exploring how the cultural value of ecosystems can be better understood
  • working to deepen analysis of future scenarios developed in the UK NEA, to ensure that more ecosystem services are included
  • reviewing, developing and enhancing tools and resources so that user groups from the public, private and voluntary sectors can make use of the evidence provided in the UK NEA.

To ensure the widest possible impact for its work, the team is engaging with a broad range of stakeholders to understand their information needs. Some of their findings will also feed directly into the work of the Natural Capital Committee, an independent advisory body formed in 2012 to help the government to prioritize actions that support and improve the UK’s natural assets.

Expertise & Team

The UNEP-WCMC Secretariat for UK NEAFO comprises Claire Brown, Matthew Ling, Lucy Wilson and Nadine Bowles-Newark. Their experience includes working on the UK NEA and the Sub-Global Assessment Network, capacity building for ecosystem assessments, and measuring, monitoring and mapping ecosystem services.

Nadine bowles newark web

Nadine Bowles-Newark

Programme Officer

Claire brown

Claire Brown

Senior Programme Officer

Partners & Donors

UK NEAFO is funded by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Welsh Government, the Natural Environment Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, and the Arts and Humanities Research Council.