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How best to understand Natural Capital – Review by James McFarlane PMIAgrM of Savills

How best to understand Natural Capital – Review by James McFarlane PMIAgrM of Savills

On the 21st July 2020 almost 200 IAgrM members and I logged onto another IAgrM virtual 60-Minute CPD training session, this time with guest speaker Professors Dieter Helm, Independent Chair of the Natural Capital Committee. Professor Helm presented on the three building blocks of natural capital - the concept of natural capital, the application of natural capital and the carbon farming framework.

Natural capital is a concept that seems to be gaining increasing traction and is centred around the protecting and enhancing of rural assets. Understood as the world’s stock of natural resources, these assets are identified as renewable natural capital assets (soils, water, air etc.) and non-renewable natural capital assets (i.e. fossil fuels). Professor Helm stated that natural capital has never been typically recorded on balance sheets at either national or business level. He explained how a baseline survey or audit when entered into an accounting framework, could allow stakeholders to understand the value of their natural capital assets and monitor thresholds to maintain both renewable and non-renewable natural capital assets for future generations. If you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it and you certainly can’t conserve it!  

Professor Helm suggested that natural capital should be used to deliver ecosystem services to benefit society and it is likely to be the building blocks of future agricultural and environmental policy based upon the following three concepts; Public Money for Public Goods,  Polluter Pays and Environmental/Biodiversity Net Gain. All of which pose new potential income streams and emerging markets for farmers and land managers.

The link to watch the recording is available by CLICKING HERE.

Professor Helm's new book, Net Zero: How We Stop Causing Climate Change, is due to be released this September and will hopefully provide further clarity on how we, on a personal, local, national and global level, can contribute towards a carbon neutral world.