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Allan Butler

Centre for Rural Policy Research Seminar Series

The invention of nature to its metrification

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The commodification of nature using natural capital metrics supports decision making. For example, Defra’s Biodiversity Metrics measures biodiversity net gain while the Environment Agency’s Natural Capital Register and Accounts tool assists decision making relating to flood and other environmental schemes. Such tools underscore the importance of natural capital metrics in enhancing the natural environment. However, nature has not always been viewed in this way. It’s so called ‘invention’ by Alex Von Humboldt painted nature as a living whole, a web in which flora, fauna and their physical environments are interconnected. He also noted how humans influenced its development, changing the fabric of nature itself. Therefore, this paper explores the roots of nature journeying through history, philosophy, ecology, and economic thought from its ‘invention’ to its metrification and reflects on what this means for economic analysis and the measurement of nature in general.


Byrne House