Can we put a price on nature?

At a time when there is an ever-increasing need to consider the economic basis for decisions, could putting a price on nature be a means to ensuring its true value is fully recognised?

Nature provides a plethora of services that are valuable to people and populations, which can be defined as natural capital. Pollination, decomposition, and the provision of clean drinking water are all ecosystem services that provide economic benefit across the globe. In some cases these benefits are not taken into account, and decisions over nature protection could therefore lead to severe consequences in the future.

The concept of valuing nature gives rise to many issues, both social and ecological. Could putting a price on nature lead to greater environmental protection? Or would there be the risk of increased commercialisation and abstraction of the natural world? Is putting a price on nature the best method of valuation? These questions and more will be discussed tonight at the joint British Ecological Society/Royal Geographical Society event ‘Putting a price on the priceless: valuing nature?’

This discussion will cover the social, geographical and ecological bases of the valuation of nature. Panel members include:

Professor Rosie Hails, Science Director at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and a member of the UK Government’s Natural Capital Committee; Dr Tom Crompton, Change Strategist at WWF-UK and has written a number of reports assessing environmental campaigning; Dr Sarah Whatmore, Professor of Environment and Public Policy at the University of Oxford, where her research focuses on relations between people and the material world.

Follow the discussion on Twitter and put your questions to the panel using #valuingnature. A recording of the event will be made available at a later date.