The UK’s natural capital has intrinsic value but also provides critical services for our economy, health and wellbeing. However, the state of many ecosystems is in serious decline, which puts the future availability of the benefits we derive at risk.
The term natural capital is used to describe all natural resources that provide goods and services of value to people and our economy. The benefits from these resources include ecosystem services such as the provision of healthy air, clean water, food, timber and opportunities for recreation as well as the regulation of flood risk and climate.
A number of businesses are already investing in the protection and improvement of the state of the UK’s natural capital, but need a supportive policy framework to underpin their activities. All companies must be encouraged to assess their reliance on natural capital and incentivise more sustainable business practices. Smart regulation and support for the creation of new markets in ecosystem services will allow the value of our natural environment to be better reflected in prices and decision making. The government’s forthcoming 25 Year Environment Plan must help provide this enabling policy framework and support the increase of financial flows into projects that enhance the resilience of our natural environment.