Animated video: ‘Natural capital’ approach to ‘become integrated into national policy’

An animated video has been released “to introduce” the idea of ‘natural capital accounting’, as it is expected to be a concept that the farming community will increasingly hear about going forward.

The video shows how the natural capital approach – a standardised method to assess nature’s stocks and flows – can “help us all to consider the hidden economic and environmental value in a farm”.

This can include soil health, biodiversity, carbon storage, water quality and flood mitigation, as well as cultural and heritage value, mental health and wellbeing.

Minister of State Pippa Hackett has welcomed the video, which was produced by Natural Capital Ireland in partnership with the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine.

‘There is quite a distance to go’

Minister Hackett said she looks forward to a time “when we all speak easily about natural capital”.

“The services nature provide are so widespread and so important that we should be recognising them almost without thinking. And we must start accounting for them too,” she said.

There is quite a distance to go, of course, before we get to that stage; which is why videos like this one, which help us get comfortable with the concept, are so valuable.”

Farming families in Ireland “can be powerful allies for nature conservation”.

“Responsible for so much of Ireland’s land management, farmers are on the frontline when it comes to tackling the biodiversity crisis, especially armed with the right knowledge and support.”

The European Green Deal states that “all EU policies should contribute to preserving and restoring Europe’s natural capital”, while the new EU Biodiversity Strategy states that by 2050, “the EU’s natural capital will be protected, valued and appropriately restored”.

Integrated into national policy

According to Natural Capital Ireland, this approach will become more integrated into national policy and, as it does so, it will “allow farmers, policymakers, ecologists and the wider community to work together to make more sustainable practices the norm”.

“[It] will illustrate how often simple measures and adjustments regarding land use, pesticide use, hedge-cutting practices, etc, can be of enormous short-term and long-term benefit for the planet, with the potential for economic advantages for the farmer too.”

Chair of the board of Natural Capital Ireland, Professor Jane Stout from Trinity College Dublin, said that there’s “lots of unrecognised and overlooked value in Irish farmland”.

“Both in terms of the natural capital it supports, and the ecosystem services and benefits that flow from it,” Professor Stout said.

Quantifying that natural capital, including biodiversity of habitats and species and the service flows from them, can be a useful tool for farmers and policymakers.

“These accounts can help inform decision-making and planning, as well as developing incentives to protect and restore nature on farmland.”