24 July 2018
If there’s one thing that becomes increasingly clear to us as we link up organisations so they can become climate-friendly, adaptive and resilient, it’s that we need to take whole systems into account rather than separate parts. This is why we’ve been widening our scope to support members with understanding the full range of issues and solutions. This includes biodiversity, and at a recent Fit for the Future event we explored its role in sustainability and tackling climate change.
Environmental practitioners from a range of organisations came together to learn from the Field Studies Council, Shropshire Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency, RSPB, the National Youth Agency, and each other. This was a chance to network and share knowledge, which is what Fit for the Future is all about. The ideas and practical solutions shared on the day were big, but we’ve pulled out some key points topics:
The Big Picture
The key message from the day was clear: biodiversity is essential to our environment, well-being and economy and must be safe guarded. Its role in sustainability and tackling climate change is also hugely significant.
Minding the Gap
The impacts of climate-change on biodiversity is becoming increasingly apparent- we’re noticing plants flowering earlier, habitats being threatened, and a range of other concerning changes, as reported here by the RSPB. To understand what’s happening to biodiversity, we need to be able to monitor it correctly, and FSC’s BioLinks project is about exactly that: put simply by FSC’s Charlie Bell, ‘We can’t monitor things that we can’t identify.’ FSC are training a community of volunteers to identify and monitor invertebrate species that are under studied and under recorded. With a National Lottery grant of £1.23 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), this project is now underway.
Youth Links - Another project inspiring younger generations to engage with biodiversity has been initiated by the National Youth Agency ‘Environment Now’, which funds young people between the ages of 17-24 with grants to tackle environmental issues using digital technology.
From Monitoring to Meaning
Once we understand exactly what we’ve got, what do we do with that information? One approach is known as ‘natural capital’, which RSPB’s Malcolm Ausden talked us through. It’s a method that can be used to strengthen the case for investment in nature conservation, but the approach has potential risks.
On the one hand, by starting to understand the costs of environmental degradation and the value of benefits provided by nature in material terms, we might be able to better protect and enhance the natural environment, maintaining and even boosting biodiversity.
Malcolm was clear that the approach comes with problems though: the full value of biodiversity is underestimated in natural capital accounts and there can be trade-offs between maximising ecosystem services benefits and maintaining/ benefitting bio-diversity.
To understand more about the practical application of the ecosystem services approach for an organisation and how RSPB have implemented it, check out Malcolm’s presentation from the day.
Understanding the policy context
We also heard from the Environment Agency’s Environment Strategy Manager about the government’s Environment Plan, in which natural capital and ecosystem services feature strongly. We learnt that biodiversity is key with aims to:
If, like some of our members, you have been a little confused by the plan, its goals and actions, check out Charlie’s presentation in the members’ area for what we found to be an extremely helpful overview.
Members can access the full range of resources shared in the event in our members’ area. If you’re not a member but you’d like to connect with others who are exploring biodiversity as a pathway to sustainability and tackling climate-change, please get in touch.