Natural Capital Mapping
PDF Case study of Gloucestershire's Natural Capital Mapping project
The UK Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan set out a comprehensive, longterm approach to protecting and enhancing the UK’s natural landscapes and habitats for the next generation. “By using our land more sustainably and creating new habitats for wildlife, we can reverse the decline in native species and improve our biodiversity, enabling us to build a cleaner, greener country and reap the economic rewards of the glean growth revolution.”
By focusing on nature recovery and regeneration, we now have a great opportunity to support growth that will bring great and tangible benefit to all. And the importance of nature-based solutions are particularly salient in the context of COVID-19: as we recover, we have an opportunity to protect and restore nature. A data- and science-led recovery plan will help to create
employment in the industries of the future, while ensuring we address the linked challenges of public health, climate change, and biodiversity.
Against this backdrop, the Gloucestershire LNP was commissioned by the Gloucestershire Joint Economic Growth Committee and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to develop a Natural Capital Baseline for the county, to allow planners, developers, ecologists and land managers to understand the spatial distribution of the ecosystem services in Gloucestershire.
In March 2020, the Gloucestershire LNP engaged Ecosulis to develop a natural capital baseline map for the county, using pioneering methods to gather crucial data points. This map builds on and enhances existing natural capital mapping methodologies, allowing stakeholders to get the fullest possible picture to guide future decisions, including biodiversity offsetting (linked to net gain), spatial planning, climate change policies, and natural capital investment
This approach seeks to move away from one of reaction to one of pro-action - spatially representing county-wide natural capital assets 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.
The maps have already been used:
- to identify the most beneficial locations for tree planting
- to assess how development projects can best contribute to natural capital locally
- to identify blue/green infrastructure opportunities
Gloucestershire Centre for Environmental Records (GCER) now hosts and manages access to the data contained in the maps, which can be viewed here.