Keynote Lecture Series: "An optimist’s guide to managing ecosystem services"

Wednesday, 6th September 2017 - 17:30 to 20:30

This Valuing Nature Keynote Lecture will be given by Tom Oliver, Associate Professor in Landscape Ecology at the University of Reading. This 45 minute lecture will be followed by a panel discussion, Q&A and light refreshments.

Members of the panel are Georgina Mace, Michael Winter, Charles Godfray and Rob Fish.

Lecture Title: An optimist’s guide to managing ecosystem services

Venue - The Edinburgh Room (QA075), Queen Anne Court, University of Greenwich, 30 Park Row, Greenwich, London, SE10 9LS     Travel and Directions    Campus Map

Lecture Abstract

"Traditional conservation based on moral imperatives hasn’t worked. The new paradigm in conservation is to engage, rather than shun, the neoliberal market system by quantitatively integrating the value of nature into economic decision making.  Ecosystem services provided by nature are measured and this information is brought to bear on land use decisions, increasingly through monetary valuation”. We might think that this is a rational, pragmatic approach to conservation, compared to the naive optimism of ‘traditional’ approaches. Yet, is it equally idealistic? For example, how do we pick and prioritise which ecosystem services we want in a given location? How do we measure all the services that are important for society, not just a select few that are more amenable to measurement? How can we value and plan for the resilience of ecosystem services under environmental perturbations (e.g. extreme weather events, disease outbreaks etc.) that are likely to occur in the future? In this lively presentation, I will use selected scientific examples to make the case that seeking solely a quantitative economic approach to ecosystem service management is naïve and unrealistic. A reality check is needed, because whilst the advancement of quantitative accounting and valuation methodologies is still necessary, there is an urgent need to look towards more systemic and transdisciplinary approaches if we are to safeguard essential biodiversity and ecosystem services under accelerating global change in the Anthropocene. 

Biography - Tom Oliver

Dr Tom Oliver is Associate Professor of Landscape Ecology and Research Division Leader for Ecology and Evolution at the University of Reading. He sits on the European Environment Agency Scientific Committee in a role advising on socioecological systems. Tom's research focuses on analysis of large ecological datasets to inform upon spatiotemporal patterns in biodiversity and ecosystem services. For example, using long-term species monitoring data to understand how species respond to the interacting effects of land use and climate change. He is also interested application of in this science by bridging the gaps between theory, evidence, policy and practical action; for example, by providing tools to help decision makers integrate biodiversity conservation into land management decisions. He has worked on developing spatiotemporal indicators for national biodiversity and ecosystem services and, more recently, on producing indicators for the resilience of ecosystem functions provided by species.


The 45 minute lecture will be followed by responses from the following Panelists:

Michael Winter (Chair) Professor of Land Economy and Society, Land, Environment, Economics and Policy Institute (University of Exeter). Member of Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team

Georgina Mace - Professor of Biodiversity and Ecosystems, and Head of the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research at University College London.

Charles Godfray - Director of the Oxford Martin Programme on the Future of Food and co-leads the Oxford Martin Restatement Project. Member of Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team

Rob Fish  - Reader in Human Ecology at the University of Kent. Member of Valuing Nature Programme Coordination Team 

Delegates will be encouraged to take part in a Q&A session to round off the evening.

Light refreshments will be available.

Register HERE