December 1, 2020

Chimney Meadows Ecosystem Services Assessment

Authors: Oliver Hölzinger (CEEP) & Karen Haysom (BBOWT)

Client: Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT)

Published: October 2017


The main aim of the project was to establish if the management instigated at Chimney Meadows Nature Reserve by Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) for the purpose of conserving native plants and breeding waders and wildfowl would provide additional benefits in the form of ecosystem services to society. Two scenarios for the assessment period 2023-2052 were established: an aspirational (ASP) scenario reflecting the intended and already partially implemented management changes introduced by BBOWT and a business as usual (BAU) scenario assuming that the former commercial agricultural management would continue.

The results show that both scenarios provide a net-benefit to society. However, the net-benefit of the ASP scenario of £8.2 million is £7.0 million higher than in the BAU scenario. This clearly shows that the ASP scenario would be the preferred option where the objective is to maximise social benefit. This is likely to be a very conservative estimate of the real value because many ecosystem services could not be quantified or were only partially quantifiable. The Benefit-Cost Ratio (BCR) of the ASP scenario of 4.8 indicates that each £1 spent on annual running costs returns a benefit of £4.80 to society and is therefore good value for money. The BAU scenario on the other hand only has a BCR of 1.5. For applicable methods, calculations and caveats see the relevant sections of the main report.

When looking at the private benefits (excluding wider social benefits) only, the business models of both ASP and BAU scenarios are not viable. In both cases the benefits provided for society as a whole are larger than those generated for BBOWT/the farmer per se. Under the BAU scenario the farmer would be left with a net cost of £1.2m over the assessment period. Under the ASP scenario this would rise to £1.7m for BBOWT. This assessment shows that external funding to support the ASP state is both necessary and justifiable. Public funding and/or subsidies up to £7m (the additional net-benefit of the ASP scenario) would still provide a positive return on investment to society.


Chimney Meadows Ecosystem Services Assessment (pdf, 1.8mb)