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The true value of nature

Christina Harrison
20 December 2010
Blog team: 
Biodiversity loss stories do make headlines, but when and how will governments and businesses realise nature's true value and factor it into their accounts?

This is the question asked by Georgina Langdale in a feature in the latest Kew magazine. Georgina has been involved in an international study into the true value of nature, namely The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity – known as TEEB.

She makes the point that nature is often invisible to us in terms of its importance and economic value, hence its ongoing degradation around the world. The values of its benefits are often overlooked or poorly understood. But if this perception was changed, governments, businesses and individuals would save money, maintain healthy habitats and save endangered species at the same time.

This approach of valuing 'natural capital' and working with nature is already being taken up by some – you can see examples on the TEEB website and it is hoped this way of thinking will accelerate in the future as its benefits become clear.

Georgina argues that 'business as usual' is ultimately self-defeating.

Kew is involved in many international projects to ensure natural capital is not lost, including the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, which has an international network working to save plants and habitats under threat on a daily basis.


MSBP staff on a seed collecting expedition in Malawi


TEEB has produced a series of reports – for policy makers, business and for citizens. The final report was presented at COP 10 in Nagoya, Japan in October.

Read Georgina's article in Kew magazine, and go to teebweb where all the reports are available for download.

You can subscribe to Kew magazine as a print or digital edition - find out more here.

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