The importance of natural capital in the creation and regeneration of towns
By Rob Asquith
Head of Department, Planning,
Town planners are well versed in the importance and challenges of infrastructure. How people travel to, from and around the built environment, for example, can be crucial to its success and the wellbeing of its inhabitants. Increasingly, however, when planners and developers talk of infrastructure we mean far more than roads, railways and pedestrianised zones.
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Understanding the New Forest’s Natural Capital
… And how its management provides public goods to the nation
A new report has been produced which assesses the New Forest’s valuable natural assets – or ‘natural capital’ such as rivers, soils and woodland, and how these can be managed to benefit society.
It’s in response to the Government’s pledge to replace the current EU system of financial support for agriculture with one based on ‘public money for public goods’. Payments will be given based on what farmers and land managers are doing to help society rather than the amount of land they own.
The report Understanding the New Forest’s Natural Capital assesses how this concept can be applied to the New Forest and its uniquely special landscape.
Not only is the New Forest home to a diverse range of species (many of which are rare), but it’s managed using traditional practices at a scale that has long disappeared from the rest of western Europe.
In particular, commoning is central to maintaining the landscape – the animals’ grazing helps create the mosaic of habitats found here.
However, commoning is voluntary, and the traditional management of the Forest relies on direct support and specially-developed agri-environment agreements to survive. The largest of these schemes – the Verderers of the New Forest Higher Level Stewardship Scheme (HLS) worth £19m over 10 years – is about to come to an end.
The report gives an invaluable evidence base and proposes a structure to help create a replacement for the current system that will be specially suited to the New Forest area.
Forest Farming Group
The report was commissioned by the Forest Farming Group, which was formed of statutory and voluntary groups shortly after the Referendum in 2016.
The Group was formed to put the case for a bespoke and locally-led scheme of payments for public benefits to reward the New Forest’s farmers for the environmental services that they provide, either through practising their common rights or managing their land within and around the National Park.
The group includes the New Forest National Park Authority, Forestry England, Verderers of the New Forest, Natural England, the Commoners’ Defence Association, National Farmers Union and the National Trust.
New Forest as an exemplar
The New Forest is a highly protected landscape and much-treasured national asset, providing a multitude of public goods for the benefit of society.
Together, the Forest Farming Group can help make it an exemplar of that principle by putting natural capital at the core of our future management plans and decisions.
This is Natural Capital 2018
The Natural Capital Coalition launched its report ‘This is Natural Capital 2018’ in November 2018. This is its second review of progress within the natural capital movement.Visit the Natural Capital Coalition Website
We Value Nature
We Value Nature is a three year campaign launched in November 2018 that will help to make valuing nature the new normal for businesses across Europe.
Working with the Natural Capital Coalition and supported by the European Commission, We Value Nature will collaborate with businesses, networks, platforms and other interested stakeholders to mainstream approaches such as Natural Capital Assessment, Natural Capital Accounting, Nature Based Solutions, Green Infrastructure and related ecosystem-based approaches.
The partner organisations are: Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW); World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD); International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN); and Oppla.Visit We Value Nature Website
25 Year Environment Plan – Local Delivery Project
A series of four webinars, run as part of the 25 Year Environment Plan Local Delivery Project, and commissioned by Defra, are available on the Ecosystems Knowledge Network website:Visit Ecosystems Knowledge Network Website
How to do it: a natural capital workbook
This practical guide from the Natural Capital Committee is aimed at anyone who wants to use natural capital approaches in making decisions about the natural environment. It is intended to support decision makers, including planners, communities and landowners, but has particular relevance for place based decisions.Download NCC Natural Capital Workbook PDF
Working with natural processes to avoid flood risk
Advice and case studies from the Environment Agency.Visit Environment Agency Website
Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan
‘A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment’, sets out what Government will do to improve the environment, within a generation.Visit Government's Website
The Natural Capital Protocol
The Protocol, launched in 2016, helps businesses to understand their relationships with natural resources, and how these resources form the foundation of thriving societies and prosperous economic activities. Developed in a unique collaborative effort between 38 organisations with input from hundreds more during piloting and consultation, the Protocol provides a standardised framework for businesses to identify, measure and value their direct and indirect impacts and dependencies on natural capital.
The Natural Capital Protocol is a decision making framework that enables organisations to identify, measure and value their direct and indirect impacts and dependencies on natural capital.Visit The Natural Capital Coalition Website