Review for Ecosystem Markets Taskforce


Woman at deskThe project carried out a review for the Ecosystem Markets Task Force to identify opportunities available to UK business that could help them develop green goods, services, investment vehicles and markets which value and protect the environment.

The Task Force brought together industry leaders and experts from a wide range of sectors, ranging from banking and biodiversity conservation to beauty, to look for ways in which companies can improve both the environment and their bottom line.

The Task Force was supported by Defra throughout, and reported back to the Government in early 2013 through the Green Economy Council.

This work was commissioned by the Valuing Nature Network and is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council and the Ecosystem Markets Task Force.

End of project summary poster

Links to AimsOutputsThe team



The aim was to inform the work of the Ecosystem Markets Task Force by providing a review of evidence for business sector opportunities from expanding markets that value and protect nature’s services, and by assessing the appropriate tools for enabling these opportunities to be realised in practice.


The objectives of the review are:

•    Review the evidence available in the UK National Ecosystem Assessment.
•    Establish the potential for business opportunities based on nature’s services.
•    Identify actions to enable relevant markets.
•    Identify priorities for further Ecosystem Markets Taskforce work.



Opportunities for UK business that value and/or protect nature’s services - final report 

Business Opportunities - report summary 

Business Opportunities - report attachment 

Findings of the report on ‘Opportunities for UK business that value and/or protect nature’s services’

The report outlines the business case for valuing and protecting nature’s services. It highlights a series of drivers that are leading businesses to increasingly consider and manage impacts on ecosystems and to look for business opportunities while they do so. 

The report identified eight key types of opportunities available to businesses, from financial and legal services to product markets and environmental technologies. From 40 opportunities, drawn from reviewing the National Ecosystem Assessment and stakeholder’s ideas, the team have pulled out a preliminary list of 12 top opportunities which they say show real promise.

Types of business opportunity identified

  1. Product markets
    Products derived from and/or sustaining ecosystem services, and related certification services.
  2. Offsetting
    Business opportunities linked to offsetting impacts on biodiversity, carbon or other natural assets or ecosystem services.
  3. Payment for ecosystem services (PES)
    A variety of schemes through which the beneficiaries, or users, of ecosystem services provide payment to the stewards, or providers, of ecosystem services.
  4. Environmental technologies
    These prevent or treat pollution, enhance management of ecosystems, and enable more efficient resource use.
  5. Markets for cultural services
    e.g. for tourism, recreation and preventive or curative health treatments, based on nature’s services.
  6. Financial and legal services
    e.g. financial services for investment in nature-based businesses, legal services to secure property rights which underpin PES or offsetting.
  7. Ecosystem knowledge economy
    Services that deliver knowledge about ecosystems and ecosystem services; the UK could emerge as an international leader in this respect.
  8. Corporate ecosystem initiatives
    Measures taken by companies to reduce negative impacts and enhance positive impacts on nature, in order to enhance brands, meet consumer demand, manage supply chain issues or simply ‘do the right thing’.

Top 12 business opportunities

The report highlights and tentatively ranks 12 opportunities which show particular promise both in terms of short- to medium-term market potential, and in terms of potential benefit to UK ecosystems. These offer a balance between those which might be taken forward largely by business alone, and those which might also require policy and/or regulatory measures.

The 12 opportunities are ranked as follows:

  1. Biodiversity offsets, including through conservation banking
    An opportunity to stimulate creation of new companies and new business models for existing companies to provide biodiversity offsets in the UK, by moving from the current voluntary approach to a (soft regulation) mandatory regime.
  2. Peatland carbon code
    An opportunity to provide a transparent, verifiable framework for companies to purchase carbon credits to support restoration and re-wetting of degraded peatlands.
  3. Woodland enhancement through a larger market for wood fuel
    An opportunity to meet growing demand for woodfuel and wood-burning stoves from UK woodlands.
  4. Developing the UK ecosystems knowledge economy
    An opportunity to develop knowledge-based businesses providing high quality employment and growth opportunities.
  5. Layered PES 
    An opportunity to sell different ecosystem services, which arise from the same area of land, to different buyers.
  6. Carbon sequestration as an 'allowable solution'
    An opportunity arising from Government plans that all new homes will be zero carbon from 2016, involving allowing developers to ‘solve’ this part of this requirement by paying for carbon sequestration through woodland creation or peatland restoration.

  7. Expanding the reach and value of sustainability certification 
    An opportunity expand the cover of sustainability assurance to sectors or segments currently not covered, creating business opportunities for producers, intermediaries, retailers and related services.
  8. Optimizing the ecological and economic benefits of sustainable tourism 
    A range of opportunities including enhancing accessibility to and recreation in nature, better distributing tourist visits to nature, investing tourism income in host ecosystems, better promotion of the UK’s natural heritage, addressing tourism’s ecological footprint, developing nature-based health tourism.
  9. Global centre of excellence for ecosystem services certification
    An opportunity to sells professional services that foster best practices in certification of products that benefit ecosystem services. 
  10. Water re-use technologies 
    An opportunity to develop and apply technologies to increase re-use of water at the level of individual (or local groups of) businesses, with significant potential benefit to aquatic and wetland ecosystems.
  11. Reducing risk for insurers through investment in green infrastructure
    An opportunity to enhance nature and in doing so reduce risk of catastrophic events such as flooding.
  12. Developing environmental bonds as vehicles for investments in nature
    An opportunity to value the combined natural assets of a given area of land and market these to investors as an environmental bond, underpinned by government.

The Team 

Project leader

Mr Guy DukeIndependent Environmental Services Professional

Other members

Matt Rayment - economist
Ian Dickie - economist
Kerry ten Kate - offsets, financial services
Mohammad Rafiq - certification, business & biodiversity
Steve Smith - PES
Nick Voulvoulis - technologies
Tony Juniper - corporate sustainability


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