Natural Capital Mapping

In response to the 25 Year Environment Plan for a Nature Recovery Network and the drive toward a Natural Capital approach to growth, the National Planning Policy Framework seeking to achieve Environmental Net Gains, plus the review of a new Environmental Land Management Scheme (ELMS) for agriculture, the Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership (GLNP) and partners have collaborated to develop a Natural Capital baseline for the county, with an associated investment portfolio of projects.

Using examples in development elsewhere, including Stoke-on-Trent, the Natural Capital Baseline project aims to draw together evidence on environmental constraints across the county of Gloucestershire along with the opportunities to align with, and ultimately underpin, delivery of local economic growth.

We have successfully developed and delivered a pilot project in partnership with Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, the Environmental Agency and University of Gloucestershire, initially combining elements of an environmental baseline and aligning these with the Nature Recovery Network habitat mapping and local Strategic Growth plans to highlight constraints and opportunities. This highlighted, for example, where a major development will be at risk of water shortages (ie with potential restrictions on extraction licenses) by 2050. Demonstrating such risks at an early stage allows measures to be planned for and costed within scheme design, avoiding a costly investment from councils further down the line.

The main project is now underway. One exciting part of this will be the amalgamation (and in some respects creation) of data-sets for all ecosystem services provided by land (and water) in Gloucestershire. Understanding the value derived by people from the natural environment will allow for it to be better understood, thus representing a step-change in how decision-makers consider the land they are making decisions about. By showing this data spatially, in one place, strategic leaders, planners, land-owners and developers will all have access to the same data, enabling a more joined-up approach to allocation of land for development, carbon sequestration, flood-risk reduction or food production.

This approach seeks to move away from one of reaction to one of pro-action - spatially representing a county-wide natural capital asset valuation will support a much-needed expansion of site-based considerations to a more strategic land-use planning approach. Highlighting environmental constraints to development early on in the planning process will enable investment in natural solutions to unlock that potential. Further, this process will enable the creation of a portfolio of investable projects to boost and enhance natural capital across the county. Finally, delivering this baseline will enable Gloucestershire to track what impact its planning and investment decisions have on the stocks of natural capital in the county, delivering on a promise in the Local Industrial Strategy.

In this way the GLNP is supporting the Local Authorities and GFirst LEP in taking a natural capital approach to growth by providing a strategic framework for delivery of growth across Gloucestershire that both utilises and enhances the county’s natural assets as an integral part of the growth programme.

We will be updating this page as we develop the tool. We will also be issuing updates out via our e-mailings, so if you wish to remain informed please head to our Join Us page to register to our mailing list.

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