No charge? Valuing the natural environment

Date of the report

October 2009

Author of the report

Natural England

Purpose of the report

This report highlights that investment in the natural environment is critical to long term economic prosperity and that natural services provide a highly cost effective solution to growing problems like flood and coastal defence, carbon emissions and the preservation of soil, water and air quality. Leading research in this report shows how major savings can be made through looking after the nature and how the economic value of nature reaches billions of pounds in the UK alone.

Relevance to the region

The West Midlands has a very varied natural environment and so this report is particularly important to our region. The report demonstrates through a range of the benefits of a natural environment how this can lead to cost effective solutions to many of the problems we face. For example, within the West Midlands, the quote that ‘People who live within 500m of accessible green space are 24 per cent more likely to meet recommended levels of physical activity. Reducing the sedentary population by just 1 per cent would reduce morbidity and mortality rates valued at £1.44 billion for the UK.’ is very important with our high density areas of urban sprawl. To make these ambitions a reality, the report sets out standards and argues there is now a ‘strong fear’ of the ‘harm’ that efforts to improve the natural environment can have on competitiveness and the economy.’ A great quote to emphasise this; ‘These are perpetuating the notion of an inherent trade-off between nature on the one hand and future economic growth and prosperity on the other; the former often seen as a luxury, the latter as a necessity.’

What SWM liked

We like this report and the clear way it explores the benefits to the natural environment and examples it sets out throughout the report. The Ecosystems services pilot project running in Cumbria, Yorkshire and the South West is aiming to encourage the way upland managers generate wealth.

Links and contact information

Please visit the Natural England website  for more information.  


No Change? Valuing the natural environment (pdf)

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