Latest papers from the Natural Capital Committee say that the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan Progress Report “does not tell us much about whether and to what extent there has been progress”. Failures include no assessment of whether the environment has improved and no assessment of outcomes. The Committee says that there is an urgent need to establish a robust, comprehensive baseline of our natural capital assets through an environmental baseline census if progress is to be measured.
The oceans are “one of the most difficult categories of assets to measure” but mapping, coordinated databases, and some lateral thinking on design of offshore structures amongst the recommendations for a baseline census. On the question of assessing net biodiversity gain they recommend that for the marine environment, rather than focusing on underlying biodiversity assets, greater emphasis should be put on ways to increase the overall flows of all ecosystem services and benefits – food, biotech, regulating services etc. For offshore areas the net gain for marine will largely be achieved by reducing pressures and allowing the marine ecosystem to improve naturally or reconsider trade-offs and benefits between ecosystem services.