A study has put a price on France’s environment.

France recognises the value of ecosystems

The report, which the French government commissioned from the Centre d’Analyses Strategiques, aimed to put a reference value on biodiversity and ‘ecosystem services’ in France.

The figures range from €600 per hectare per year for pastureland to €2,000 for some types of forest. Temperate forestry, for example, has been given a reference value of €950 per hectare per year.

France is making a concerted effort to account for biodiversity in public decision-making. The report attempts to find clear and comprehensive estimates for the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services – a term that refers to the ways in which nature provides for humans. Examples include food, climate or disease regulation, water production, carbon storage and tourism.

The reference figures are for what the report terms ‘general’ biodiversity; it also distinguishes ‘remarkable’ biodiversity, such as a rare species, which has its own intrinsic value, and the team decided that putting values on remarkable biodiversity was inappropriate. The figures are ‘absolute minimum’ values and can be used in place of zero in the public accounting of biodiversity.

With the price of a forest somewhat of an intangible concept, methodology was key. The report explains how the figures were agreed upon, prioritising ‘ex-ante socioeconomic calculations’ – in other words, “estimates of the losses that might result from altering an ecosystem that would have to be endured or compensated for by society”. The values were then drawn up using a cost/benefit approach.

Download a copy of the report here.

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