A PROJECT to put a price tag on Scotland’s air, water and geology has been launched as a means of saving the country’s natural assets.
First Minister Alex Salmond gave his support to the scheme at an international conference on environmental accounting in Edinburgh yesterday.
Nearly 500 people from 35 countries are attending the UN-backed World Forum on Natural Capital to debate whether putting a cash value on nature’s assets will make companies and governments more likely to protect them.
Closing yesterday’s session, Mr Salmond outlined the new Scottish Forum on Natural Capital, which is being set up to help businesses and sustainability leaders evaluate their impact on the environment and weigh it against financial and other gains from the planet’s resources.
“This is the first major global conference to discuss the challenge of ‘valuing’ and conserving our natural resources: our high-quality water, land and air,” Mr Salmond said.
“I am pleased to announce a new Scottish Forum on Natural Capital, which will bring together public, private and voluntary sectors to help protect and rebuild Scotland’s natural capital. It will also offer leadership in the hope of increasing action both in Scotland and beyond.”
Nature is estimated to bring in up to £23 billion a year to the Scottish economy and its worth to society is enormous, according to Simon Milne, chief executive of the Scottish Wildlife Trust, the conference organiser and forum co-founder.
“Without a better appreciation of this value, we cannot properly track the damage that we are doing to our natural assets, nor can we properly incorporate this value into decision-making,” he said.
“The Scottish Forum will use the understanding we are developing to inform how we go about protecting and improving Scotland’s natural capital.”