The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has launched an online resource to provide ‘better’ environmental decision-making by valuing natural capital. ‘Natural capital’ is the sum of the country’s ecosystems, providing people with clean water and air, food, recreation and protection from hazards. The natural capital tool intends to make it easier for private and public organisations to better value and assess the environment.
The Enabling a Natural Capital Approach (ECNA) tool was developed in collaboration with experts from across Defra and informed by the work of academic, professional and voluntary bodies.
The value of natural capital and the environment is routinely understated. For example, the Office for National Statistics estimate that England’s forests and woods deliver an annual value of services estimated at £2.3 billion. However of this figure, only 10% is in timber values. The rest of the value comes from other, more ‘hidden’ benefits to society. This includes carbon sequestration which can help combat climate change, and air pollution removal and human recreation, which improve health and wellbeing.
The online resource has been published to bring together evidence and guidance about UK natural capital in one place for the first time. It lists the different mapping and spreadsheet-based tools that can be used, for example, to put a value on biodiversity, recreation or woodland.
“It meets a commitment from our 25 Year Environment Plan to better incorporate the value of nature – known as natural capital – and the benefits the environment provides to us all. This comes at a critical time where the protection of our environment is ever-more important in combatting climate change and reversing habitat loss.”
– Rebecca Pow MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs).
In bringing together relevant resources in one place, ENCA will hopefully make a positive change to the planning system. It will hopefully allow planners to efficiently assess the environmental and natural quality of land. This will allow our work to consistently be in line with the 25 Year Environmental Plan and increasing Biodiversity for Net Gain.
Many of the services that we offer help our clients protect and conserve local and global environmental resources. We have been successful in securing standard and bespoke environmental permits and have an excellent working relationship with the Environment Agency and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency. We are constantly striving to work to our values and ensure that the natural environment is protected for generations to come.