I went to this Valuing Nature Conference in Edinburgh in October, and hung out with some lovely and interesting science folk. http://valuing-nature.net/valnat17
I was never good enough at maths to keep up with science, so I felt a bit of an imposter, but I loved talking to lots of friendly scientists and experts who inhabit a world of questioning, measuring, quantifying and contextualising the natural world. I learned lots and failed to understand lots more during the densely packed programme of presentations.
Here's a random selection of things that stuck with me, mainly selected on the basis that if I thought it important enough to take a photo of a powerpoint slide and remembered something vaguely about it by the end of the conference, it must have some relevance to me. I'm sure I am doing a disservice to the enormous expertise and significance of what happened at the conference, but it's my take on things.
It was all about thinking about how we apportion value to nature - economic, social, health - and how we use this knowledge to protect and defend the right bits of nature in the right ways - across the world. I chose sessions focussed on wellbeing and enjoyed hearing and sharing different perspectives on the impacts of nature on health and wellbeing. I am looking forward to learning more about (and even contributing to) the new Demystifying Nature publication.
'environmental services' - I thought this sounded like a waste disposal company but in reality seemed to be the key concept in valuing nature. Rebecca Wade from Abertay University very helpfully summarised it for me over dinner, something like this - 'the benefits people get from ecosystems'. There are four categories - I found these on wikipedia because I couldn't remember it accurately... Supporting Servies (nutrient recycling, soil formation) - Provisisoning services (food, raw materials water) - Regulating Services (climate regulation, waste decomposition) - Cultural services (outdoor sports, recreation, nature in books). Someone else (sorry I forgot who you are) helpfully said, 'we must remember ecosystem services is a metaphor'.
I also learned a bit from Rebecca about the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. And I took this photo, although I don't remember whose presentation this was.
There were other national and international goals and frameworks and agreements - the UN Sustainability goals for development 2030 is an interesting one. A 'global vision for humanity' with 17 goals for the world to eradicate poverty, hunger, reduce inequality...
I heard acronyms and concepts that hurt my brain, some of which I like but haven't googled to find out what they mean. Like Hedonomic and Eudaimonic. Or QALY's which seem to have something to do with NICE determining if something was cost effective at some point. It sounded really juicy but my brain couldn't keep up. So I did this:
and at one point I even did this. It is a nature conference after all...
The best bits for me were when people came to talk to me about Other Ways to Walk and how it relates to their work - so brilliant to get such positive feedback from such varied fields of expertise - Eden Project, Woodland Trust, Sheffield Social Housing, James Hutton Institute, Defra and so many more. Here's my 'stall' - a few people borrowed packs of cards and took them out for a walk, some bought some and others shared thoughts, ideas and responses.