At different levels, new initiatives are being undertaken in the United Kingdom which not only address biodiversity conservation per se, but extend the picture to sectors which in the past were not involved. The economics of biodiversity and the services which people receive from nature are crucial issues in the discussion.
To add to NGO initiatives such as ‘Living Landscapes’ (The Wildlife Trusts) and Futurescapes (Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, RSPB), a number of partnership projects, such as Nature Improvement Areas (NIAs), Green Infrastructure and Ecosystem Services, have been started by the government. As a result, the terms “NIAs”, “green infrastructure” and “ecosystem services” are becoming more commonplace in the planning arena. This is particularly important when engaging with the business and development sectors and there are signs that some common ground and reciprocal language might be found.
The UK government has established a Natural Capital Committee which reports progress on the value of the ‘natural economy’ directly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer at the Treasury, and an Ecosystem Markets Task Force. This initiative is innovative as it brings the economic value of biodiversity, which is generally not taken into account, into financial planning and management of the government.
In addition to all the high level strategic work there is a great deal being done on the ground by the many conservation organisations and local community groups whose volunteers maintain nature reserves and record habitats and species. Many biological records can now be found in the National Biodiversity Network.