Webinar: Nature-Based Solutions Report Launch

Today RRC attended a webinar hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Climate Change Group (APPCCG), focusing on the launch of the Nature-based Solution Report from RSPB and Cambridge Econometrics. Fiona Harvey chaired the webinar, opening the session by highlighting that Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are a beneficial approach to mitigating the impacts of climate change, and how there is an economics concept to NbS.

Caroline Lucas, Green Party MP, talked about the costs and benefits of NbS. These can be used to stem the extinction of species, and offer an opportunity for solving the dual crisis, or even triple crisis of Climate Change, biodiversity impacts and the Covid-19 pandemic. Caroline outlined how we have a crisis in our relationship with the natural world, as well as the crisis which significantly undervalues nature.

We need to keep making the argument for a combined response to climate change and biodiversity, and hold the government to account when they promise green recovery but fail to deliver. Framing around ‘nature’, recovery strategies and cost-benefit analysis can be a useful tool for bridging multiple crises, and tackling in collaboration with each other.

NbS can help protect biodiversity, encourage carbon sequestration and provide jobs. The evidence is overwhelming that we should invest to help protect more of our woodlands and peatlands. Fortunately, Nbs is an important part of government ambitions for a green recovery.

This webinar was to highlight the launch of a new report ‘Economic costs and benefits of nature-based solutions to mitigate climate change’, commissioned by RSPB and conducted by Cambridge Econometrics. Paul Morling, Chief Economist at the RSPB introduced us to the report methods and outputs.

Paul mentioned how RSPB have been following the opportunities around NbS and how they can make a great contribution to nature recovery. They wanted to examine this contribution in economic terms, and understand the opportunity for doing NbS in the UK. This involved highlighting where the opportunities are for delivering beneficial outcomes to nature, in combination with economic benefits (peatland and saltmarsh restoration, and carbon sequestration).

RSPB/Cambridge Econometrics carried out a cost-benefit analysis to understand the asset value of nature, as well as a Gross Value Added (GVA) analysis to model input and output in terms of economic activity potential (e.g. job creation). These economic benefits fall into three categories – private, social, non monetizable benefits. As well as this, there are site considerations, as not all sites will be exactly the same, so some estimation is required. The model looked at representative numbers for some of the benefits of work that has already been carried out. These numbers are indicative i.e. in terms of carbon savings, and sites differ considerably.

3 main habitats were of interest in terms of economic benefit – woodlands, peatland and saltmarsh. Peatlands showed a very high return (for every £1 spent, £4.62 can be expected to be returned in the economic and social benefits!). An expected 55% of peatland are to be restored to good status by 2050, generating approx. 48,000 temporary jobs in the restoration phase alone! The non monetised benefits include biodiversity, water quality, flood alleviation recreation and wellbeing.

The woodlands also showed a high cost-benefit, with every £1 spent returning an expected £2.79 in economic and social benefits. This excludes the potential monetary value associated with production of timber and wood fuel. The government decision to plant 30,000 hectares of woodland in the UK each year would create approx. 7,500 temp jobs to carry out restoration/planting activities. Also, £366m can be generated in GVA during the tree planting stage.