Major university study about to start into nature in the Fens - is it priceless or value-less?

Dr Aled Jones of Cambridge University

Dr Aled Jones of Cambridge University - Credit: Archant

Two universities have teamed up to carry out a research project into nature in the Fens.

Anglia Ruskin University and the University of East Anglia have won a joint funding bid to examine the “natural capital” of the East of England, with a specific focus on Fenland.

Dr Aled Jones, director of Anglia Ruskin’s Global Sustainability Institute, said: “Essentially the question we’ll be trying to answer is this, if we say that nature is priceless, do we end up in effect treating it as valueless?

“Or is being unwilling to price nature the best protection we have against it being packaged up, owned, bought, sold or used up?

“By 2018, as a result of this network’s creation, we will hopefully be closer to being able to decide whether nature ought to be evaluated in terms of the price that can be put on it, or in terms of its ‘pricelessness’.”

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Nature includes the food we eat, the water we drink and the plant materials used for fuel, building materials and medicines.

The concept of putting a “value” on different aspects of the natural world has become influential in policy making and is expected to be at the centre of the UK Government’s new “25 Year Plan for Nature”, due out soon, he added.

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The 18-month project will end with a conference and art exhibition, hosted in the Ruskin Gallery at Anglia Ruskin’s Cambridge campus.

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