Land Journal August–September 2017

Mike Swain

Editor, Land Journal (RICS)

The notion of selling nature seems, at first, to be rather uncouth. You might wonder what a romantic poet such as Wordsworth would have made of it.


But placing a value on natural capital and defining methods of payment for ecosystem services are ideas that are very much coming of age.

In this issue, Charles Cowap examines ways of putting an economic value on what nature does for us, and the opportunities for rural surveyors and valuers to make commercial deals.

Rural surveyors and valuers possess the professional knowledge and skills to support new commercial opportunities in the protection and development of ecosystem services.

The article follows the launch at this year’s rural conference in June of the new RICS insight paper, Value of natural capital — the need for chartered surveyors, and we're encouraging all chartered surveyors working in land and natural resources to familiarise themselves with developments in this area. It is a subject to which the Land Journal will be returning.

Elsewhere in this issue, Carrie de Silva tells the inspirational story of Irene Barclay, the first woman to qualify as a surveyor, who did pioneering work in social housing and slums. She joined the Valuation Division of the Surveyors’ Institution in 1922 – yet almost 100 years later, only 14% of RICS members are women.

However, I am indebted to Annie Stanford for pointing out that RICS Land Group members mostly do a bit better in the diversity stakes. Writing in the first edition of Land Management Today, produced by postgraduate students at Harper Adams University, she notes that 29% of rural members are female, with 17% in planning and development, 16% in environment, 4% in minerals and waste and 1% in geomatics.

But this still compares badly with the legal and medical professions, where women’s membership is running at nearly 50%. As we report, even the most optimistic forecasts predict that it will take at least two generations to achieve such gender parity in surveying.

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