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UK National Ecosystem Assessment

Key Message

The benefits derived from the natural world and its constituent ecosystems are critically important to human well-being and economic prosperity, but are consistently undervalued in economic analyses and decision making.


UK National Ecosystem Assessment. (2011).

UK National Ecosystem Assessment: Synthesis of Key Findings.
Cambridge, England: Author.


The UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) provides a comprehensive overview of the state of the natural environment in the UK and a new way of estimating national wealth. It shows how natural resources have been under-valued. Valuing them properly will enable better decision making, more certain investment, new avenues to wealth creation and jobs, and greater human well-being in changing times ahead.

The UK NEA shows that the tendency to focus only on the market value of resources that can be used and sold, such as timber, crops and fisheries, has led to the decline of some ecosystems and habitats through pollution, over-exploitation, and land conversion.

It warns that continued population growth and climate change are likely to put additional pressure on ecosystems, and that actions taken now will have consequences far into the future. It stresses the need for a more collaborative approach to enhancing our environment, with everyone playing their part to capture more of nature’s benefits in a sustainable way. Six future scenarios have been developed showing how ecosystems could be affected over the next 50 years depending on what emphasis is given to environmental sustainability or economic growth.


Specific benefits to the UK economy include a £1.5 billion boost to the quality of the country’s water supply resulting from inland wetlands and a £430 million boost to agriculture by pollinating insects and birds.

Simply living near an urban park delivers an average of £300 in health benefits each year.

Ecosystems provide three generic health benefits.

  • First, ecosystems can have direct positive effects on the mental and physical health of individuals.
  • Second, ecosystems have indirect positive effects on human health, including i) facilitating nature-based activity and social engagement (e.g. providing locations for contact with nature, or physical activity), and ii) providing a catalyst for behavioural change, encouraging the adoption of healthier lifestyles (e.g. improving life pathways, activity and behaviour, and encouraging the consumption of wild foods).
  • Third, ecosystems can reduce the incidence of pollution and disease vectors, through a variety of purification and control functions, including local climate regulation, and the scavenging of air pollutants and waterborne pathogens. (p 32)

Benefit Statements / Outcomes

Leadership Provided By:

  • Leisure Information Network (LIN)
  • Alberta Recreation and Parks Association

On Behalf Of:

  • Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRAA)

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