23rd March 2015

How Much Are the UK’s Natural Resources Worth?

The value of the UK's lakes, reservoirs, marshes, bogs, canals and rivers has risen by more than a quarter in five years according to the first ever analysis of freshwater ecosystems from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

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How Much Are the UK’s Natural Resources Worth?

Between 2008 and 2012 the value of the UK’s freshwater ecosystems, which covers inland wetlands and open water, rose by 26% from £29 billion to £37 billion.

These figures form part of ONS’s efforts to measure Natural Capital, which is aiming to place a value on the economic benefits of our natural resources.

ONS has become an international leader in developing natural capital accounting, which is highlighting the losses, gains and importance of the services provided by natural assets.

Alongside the new analysis of freshwater ecosystems, the ONS is also publishing an interim review of the work to measure natural capital, examining what has been achieved so far and what the project aims to produce by 2020.

The key findings uncovered from Natural Capital to date include:

A preliminary estimate valued the UK’s natural assets at £1.6 trillion, broadly equivalent to the UK GDP.

The value of UK’s non-renewable assets (oil & gas reserves, coal and minerals) reduced by 30% between 2007 and 2011.

The value provided by the UK’s woodlands for carbon storage and recreation was 13 times higher than if it were used solely for timber, an estimated £2.4 billion.

Urban land use increased by 5.4% between 2000 and 2010.

Glenn Everett, Director of the ONS Measuring National Well-being programme, said “The degradation of our natural resources and loss of the services nature provides to people and the economy in not accounted for in the nation’s balance sheet. So there is an important need to take stock of the economic benefits that we receive from our natural assets.”

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