A recent report has been published which shows that the argument above is spurious; that protecting our forests and open spaces has financial value.
"The UK's parks, lakes, forests and wildlife are worth billions of pounds to the economy, says a major report. The health benefits of merely living close to a green space are worth up to £300 per person per year, it concludes. [...] Some figures emerge with precision, such as the £430m that pollinating insects are calculated to be worth, or the £1.5bn pricetag on inland wetlands, valued so high because they help to produce clean water."Read more about it here.
The view of CIN is mixed on this. Without doubt, anything that could help to prevent another natural environment from being cut down, drained, despoiled or built on is useful. Every tool helps, and to the idiots who see everything in financial terms this may be considered and therefore help. On the other hand the natural environment has intrinsic value too. Benefits that can't be costed and value to beings other than humans. It is ridiculous that human civilisation has regressed to the point that everything is seen as being in relation to us, owned by us, with the only question being, "What will we do with this?" Just because we have the power to do something does not mean that we have the moral authority to. Any educated child knows the difference between "Can I?" and "May I?" One of the final sections of the BBC article makes a good point though:
Ian Bateman, an economist from the University of East Anglia who played a principal role in the analysis, said that putting a single price on nature overall was not sensible. "Without the environment, we're all dead - so the total value is infinite," he said.