The natural environment of the South West, including its wildlife, is a key regional economic asset vital for those who live, work and visit the region. Looking after our environment makes good sense not only for its own sake but also for the breadth of public goods- or ecosystem services that it provides. These benefits include: clean air, clean and plentiful water, productive soils, supplies of raw materials - food, fuel, construction materials, productive land, rivers and seas, climate regulation, flood protection, high quality landscapes and heritage (Source: SWEN Environmental Priorities 2010 (pdf)). Securing a sustainable, healthy and prosperous future for the South West must therefore include provision to restore and enhance our landscapes and ecosystems
Ecosystem Services are defined by the UK National Ecosystem Assessment as:
Ecosystem services are the benefits provided by ecosystems that contribute to making human life both possible and worth living. Examples of ecosystem services include products such as food and water, regulation of floods, soil erosion and disease outbreaks, and non-material benefits such as recreational and spiritual benefits in natural areas. The term 'services' is usually used to encompass the tangible and intangible benefits that humans obtain from ecosystems, which are sometimes separated into 'goods' and 'services'.
Ecosystem Services Assessment is simply 'Understanding nature's value to society'.
What is the UK National Ecosystem Assessment?
The UK National Ecosystem Assessment (UK NEA) is the first analysis of the UK's natural environment in terms of the benefits it provides to society and continuing economic prosperity.