New report reveals public views on ecosystem services and valuing nature

Public views on the challenges facing policy and decision makers to manage and value the natural environment have been revealed in a project led by Dr Robert Fish, one the coordinators of the Valuing Nature Network and research programme. The report is published today on the Valuing Nature website.

The ‘Naturally Speaking…’ public dialogue was commissioned to explore how concepts such as ecosystem services and the Ecosystem Approach reflect public aspirations for environmental policy and practice. The dialogue was run in partnership with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and Sciencewise, the UK’s national centre for public dialogue in policy making involving science and technology issues.

Commenting on the dialogue Robert said: “This was an ambitious and wide-ranging study that both confirms and challenges prevailing wisdoms about how people think about the natural environment and what they think policy makers should be doing about it. There is a depth of expertise and imagination that the public can bring to complex issues that can help take the environmental agenda forward.”

Nine one day events were held with members of the public in Birmingham, Exeter and Glasgow, culminating in a day and half event in London with a range of participants from the three locations and specialist representatives from national and local government, academics, policy delivery and non-governmental organisations.

Simon Kerley, Head of Terrestrial Sciences at NERC and chair of the dialogue's oversight group, welcomed the report.  He said: “This was a wide ranging and thorough dialogue process that offers us original insight into public aspirations and concerns about the natural environment and helps us to reflect on how science and policy might be developed to meet and address them. The dialogue has offered us a new dimension and evidence base to help inform our work, such as through the NERC led Valuing Nature research programme”

The research builds on the findings of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment, a ground breaking study of the changing state of the UK ecosystems published in 2011, and the follow-up published in 2014.