Nature is extremely valuable to humans. Natural habitats and wildlife provide economic benefits through ecosystem services, and can improve human wellbeing. Furthermore, many people have a deep-held belief that wildlife should be protected, and thus biodiversity holds value purely because of its existence. The natural-capital approach is increasingly being used to tackle the challenging task of quantifying the value of nature. Katherine Bolt and Malcolm Ausden provide an introduction to natural capital, and explain how it can be used to strengthen conservation in the UK.
Over recent years, our understanding of the importance of a healthy natural environment for our economic and social wellbeing has significantly increased. Despite this, wildlife continues to decline. The reason for this paradox is our economic system, which fails to reflect either the full costs of environmental degradation or the full value of the benefits that nature provides.