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Managing ecosystems for people, nature and economy

We are using up the earth’s ‘natural capital’ faster than the earth can replace it.  It’s far easier to see how we’re using non-renewable natural resources such as coal or oil, but we’re also  over-using other resources and ‘services’ that are less visible, but no less important to our survival - things such as pollination of food crops,  the earth’s ability to store carbon in peatlands and purify the atmosphere by plants.  A new approach is being developed which takes these natural ‘services’ into account.

In Wales, the Welsh Government’s Living Wales Green Paper proposes an ‘ecosystem approach to decision making’. Put simply, it means fully reflecting the true long-term value of ecosystems and their services in decision making.

An international Conference focusing on this ‘ecosystems’ approach takes place at Bangor University today (Friday 18 October 2013).

Scientists and policy advisors who provide independent and evidence-based advice to their national governments will be discussing the latest policy developments and research in ecosystems management at the European, UK and Wales levels and in particular, how the science is translated into policy.  

They will be sharing examples of best practice from Europe and the wider UK, and  naturally, the focus will be on recent advances made in Wales, including the creation of the new single environment body - Natural Resources Wales, and progress with several £million-worth of new ecosystem services research projects.

Emyr Roberts, Chief Executive of Natural Resources Wales said:

“In Wales, we have a unique opportunity to manage our natural resources in a way which not only maximises benefits to our wildlife, countryside and urban areas, but also to people and communities.

“Our environment is responsible for many things which are often taken for granted - from reducing our flood risk to purifying our air and making our waters cleaner.

“With many eyes on environmental policy and progress in Wales, we look forward to continuing to lead the way in ecosystems management and creating a country which places the value of its natural resources at the forefront.”

Welcoming the Conference on behalf of Bangor University, Professor John G. Hughes, the University’s Vice-Chancellor said: “We are delighted to host this Conference on its first visit to Wales. The University has an international reputation for environmental science research and teaching and has made clear sustainability commitments, recognised in our standing as the ‘greenest’ University in Wales.

One of the many ways in which higher education can contribute is illustrated by our Wales Environment Research Hub, within our College of Natural Resources. Funded by the Welsh Government, the Hub takes advantage of expertise within universities and institutes to provide the evidence base which informs and underpins government policy.”

European Environment and Sustainable Development Advisory Councils (EEAC) have been established in most European countries, and their Network, whose Conference takes place in Bangor, represents 16 European countries.  The Conference is being co-hosted by Bangor University and Natural Resources Wales.

Publication date: 17 October 2013