Ecosystems are critically important to our well-being and economic prosperity, but are consistently undervalued in conventional economic analyses and decision making. The UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) provides a comprehensive overview of the state of the natural environment in the UK and a new way of estimating our national wealth. It shows how we have under-valued our natural resources.
UK peatlands provide society with a wide range of “ecosystem services”: In good condition, they help regulate our climate, provide clean water, reduce downstream flood risk, support wildlife and provide us all with wild, open spaces in which to roam and escape. However, many peatlands have been damaged by former activities such as drainage and over-grazing.Sustainable management is essential to maintain the wide range of benefits that peatlands provide.
Sheep convert and concentrate nutrients not suitable for human needs into valuable foodstuffs from difficult-to-exploit land but this means they will have a relatively high carbon cost per unit of product. Sheep have a significant role in delivering environmental goods and services as well as enhancing the value of pastures as carbon sinks.
A pioneering project of 20 farms in the Cambrian Mountains has found that local beef and lamb production has some of the lowest carbon emissions in the UK. A report of the study’s findings will be launched as part of HRH, The Prince of Wales Start Festival at the National Botanic Gardens of Wales, Wednesday 8 September. The study analysed the carbon footprints of each farm, based on their individual farming practices. Factors measured include greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural management, existing land use, and fuel/energy use.