December 8 2013 Latest news:
Thursday, October 17, 2013
A tourist attraction in the Fens has been used to trial a state of the art toolkit that will be used by scientists across the world.
The toolkit was trialled at Wicken Fen, near Ely, as well as at conservation areas in Nepal and the Caribbean island of Montserrat.
Scientists from Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge and Southampton Universities joined forces with organisations across the world to produce the toolkit to help measure the value of ecosystems.
British scientists worked alongside experts from BirdLife International, the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre and the RSPB to produce the kit which is a cheap and easy way of measuring.
The Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-based Assessments (TESSA) allows non-experts to make the assessments and demonstrate who could be the winners and losers from any changes in land use.
TESSA currently covers five areas - global climate regulation, water-related services, harvested wild goods, cultivated goods and nature-based recreation.
New areas on pollination, cultural services and coastal protection are planned for the future.
Dr Francine Hughes, Reader in Animal and Environmental Biology at Anglia Ruskin, said: “Nature provides people with many benefits, for example harvested goods such as timber or medicinal products from forests, clean water or recreational opportunities and a feeling of wellbeing.
“These benefits are often called ecosystem services and though it is easy to talk about them, it is very difficult to measure them or to put an economic value on them. Some people would argue that many of nature’s benefits are impossible to value, that they are priceless, and for some services this is probably true.
“However, some ecosystem services can be measured and therefore their value can be included in land use decisions such as whether to log a forest or drain a wetland.
“Demonstrating nature’s value in economic terms often carries weight with decision makers, and can lead to better-informed decisions that support biodiversity conservation.”