Defra to Launch Ecosystem Assessment for England
Defra has announced that they will be launching a Millennium Ecosystem Assessment for England. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) was founded in 2001 by an independent collection of over a thousand specialist scientists, to investigate the state of the world’s ecosystems in relation to human well-being, and continually monitor changes to our natural environment. An ecosystems approach is strongly supported by the MA, that is, a valuation of our natural ‘capital’ in social, economic and environmental terms.
The MA is broadly a project of global scope, however Defra propose to develop something along the lines of an inventory and ongoing assessment for England’s natural resources. Defra has pledged to give £500,000 over a two year period to fund the assessment. Hilary Benn made the following statement at his first keynote speech on the environment at the Barnes Wetland Centre:
“This project will give us a clearer picture of our natural resources than ever before. It will show us just how much we benefit from our natural environment. And in turn it will provide a springboard for further action to protect and enhance our natural heritage.”
The Convention on Biological Diversity have devised a means of applying the ecosystems approach, using the following guidelines:
- Focus on the relationships and processes within ecosystems: we must strive to accelerate research into the benefits of functional biodiversity, whilst continuing to manage ecosystems in the absence of such knowledge
- Enhance benefit-sharing: maintain and restore ecosystem function for human well-being
- Use adaptive management practices: there must be flexibility in the type of management implemented; considering social and cultural factors affecting natural resources use, as well as flexibility in policy-making and implementation
- Carry out management actions at the scale appropriate for the issue being addressed, with decentralization to lowest level, as appropriate: management should occur at the stakeholder level where appropriate, supported by policy and legislative frameworks
- Ensure intersectoral cooperation: the formation of inter-ministerial bodies within government or enhanced networking capability to facilitate better communication at all levels
To read the Rt. Hon. Hilary Benn’s full speech go to:
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