December 3, 2013, by Helen Whitehead

Advent calendar #3: Biodiversity offsetting and the value of nature

Neil Sinclair, a philosophy lecturer involved in the Sustainability, Society and You MOOC on FutureLearn. has recently posted on the Think About It blog about the ethics of biodiversity. His post Biodiversity Offsetting and Extrinsic Properties talks about the involvement of Nottinghamshire in the pilot phase of the biodiversity offsetting scheme about which the UK Government published a consultation paper in September.

He comments “The scheme raises the issue of whether there is a type of value in nature whose loss cannot be compensated and this in turn raises the issue of what makes nature valuable in the first place.”

So is the value of the trees that are cut down – in Neil’s example – dependent on their intrinsic properties: in which case it is (logically) possible to destroy this forest and recreate another one, or is part of their value related to extrinsic, external or  abstract aspects?   One tree is very much like another, but it it were the Original Oak (in Sherwood Forest) then the value of its history and association with legend, its tourist value and affection for it in the community would mean it could not simply be replaced by another oak.  And what is true for the Original Oak is true for other trees. See what you think of Neil’s comments on the value of nature.

Posted in Advent calendarEnvironmentMOOC TeamSustainability