Natural capital is steadily – but not before time! – moving into the mainstream as a concept that is becoming operationalised in Ireland, Paddy Woodworth reports from Dublin.
Woodlands of Ireland Report
Last year, Woodlands of Ireland, an excellent NGO campaigning for the restoration of native woodlands, commissioned a report on the natural capital valuation of these ecosystems from Craig Bullock and Jerry Hawe. I had the pleasure of co-editing this document with Declan Little, project manager for WofI. See
Conference: “Natural Capital – Ireland’s Hidden Wealth
Declan Little and I also form part of a committee, with Catherine Farrell of Bord na Móna (the Irish Peat Board), Jane Stout of TCD Biodiversity Centre, and Matthew Jebb of the National Botanic Gardens, organising a forthcoming conference entitled ‘Natural Capital: Ireland’s Hidden Wealth’.
Speakers include the deputy Minister for Finance, Brian Hayes, Rudolf de Groot, lead author on the MEA and TEEB, Micheal O Briain from the European Commission, Feargal O’Coigligh from the Dept of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, the economist Dan O’Brien, and James Aronson, an advocate for the restoration of natural capital who needs no introduction on these pages.
We hope that the conference will galvanize and encourage the Irish state and its public sector to engage with the significant commitments already made to incorporating natural capital values into our national accounting systems under the EU’s Biodiversity Strategy to 2020. We hope it will also stimulate private companies to see the benefits of building these values into their own accounts. It takes place in the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, on 28th and 29th April. See
EU EEA: Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES)
In this context, it is also worth mentioning that the European Environmental Authority are currently tendering for a project in natural capital accountancy. A Spanish consortium, which has already been short-listed, has invited me to participate if they are successful. More on this anon – I hope!
Here is a little of the context:
1 Context and purpose of the contract
EEA is preparing a series of outputs as support to an EU process on the mapping and assessment of ecosystems and their services (the so-called MAES process). This aims to facilitate the implementation of policy targets under the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020.
The foreseen EEA outputs include an updated EU reference document on Natural Capital Accounting and technical documents that underpin EU ecosystem assessment objectives under the EU MAES process.
The services under this contract need to provide background research and writing support to planned EEA contributions to the EU MAES process.
For more info see:
Our Once and Future Planet: Restoring the World in the Climate Change Century
Finally, perhaps I might also mention the recent publication of my own book, title as above, from the University of Chicago Press.
In this book I set out to survey ecological restoration projects worldwide; to assess ecological restoration as a conservation strategy; and to report on developments in restoration ecology and on the evolution of thinking by the restoration movement’s practitioners and pioneers.
In the concluding chapters, I seek to evaluate Restoration of Natural Capital (RNC), as elaborated by James Aronson and others, as one of the three broad strands of ideas within the movement (the others being, in my view, Ecocentric Restoration (Bill Jordan et al), and the Novel Ecosystem paradigm (Richard Hobbs et al). I argue that all these strands have a contribution to make, but that RNC, operating at the problematic interface between human needs and biodiversity, may be particularly useful. I also argue that an informed consensus between these strands is needed, while respecting and exploring real differences.
The book has been well received. Daniel Janzen describes it as “Outstanding…a broad and major window on the world of ecosystem restoration.” Michael Viney says it is a “superb overview of how this great new ambition [restoration] is working out on the ground”. Stephen Hopper writes that the book “captures the spirit and detail of contemporary ecological restoration, its strengths, weaknesses, controversies, and especially its message of hope.”
For a recent Q&A about the book see:
or more information see: