Building our evidence base


Our Work

With a 6 step approach recommended by the review and endorsed by partners, the project set out to develop the foundation of a LNCP – an open, accessible and consistent evidence base that utilises the best available data. We provided direction and leadership by working with data owners, to challenge assumptions and existing ways of working to facilitate creating an evidence base that met our objectives.  We are also providing an account and valuation to demonstrate the benefits of the natural environment in the geography, whilst clearly outlining the gaps and limitations in an economic approach to assessing environmental values in isolation.

We took forward a small number of collaborative projects with partners across the area to explore specific aspects relating to a natural capital approach in more detail and at the more local scale. We chose projects that were deliverable within our timescales, and provided value back into the work of the LNCP, other local natural capital approaches and provide evidence for use in the area and beyond.

You can click on the icons below to view our work to date – making it easy to see the correlation between pieces of work and the type of evidence or information they provide.

Natural Capital Indicator Maps

We created Natural Capital Indicator Maps for the LNCP area.  These maps are based on Natural England’s National Natural Capital Atlas mapping approach and map the state of natural capital in terms of its quantity, quality and location. We used the Natural Capital Atlas methodology to create a visual and starting point for collaboration and found these maps provided us with a fantastic base for explaining the inter-relationships between datasets and the ecosystems services that they provide. This work gave us a head start in ensuring that we, and our stakeholders, understood what different datasets were telling us and which datasets were available to use.

A Detailed Baseline Map

We produced a more detailed Natural Capital Baseline for the area. This shows the location and extent of natural capital across the geography at a closer scale. This builds on and dovetails with the foundation of the natural capital indicator work – which contributes with some qualitative data on the assets. Both of these pieces of work together provide the first essential step to enable us to look at ecosystem services, flows, benefits and values from natural capital assets. Ultimately this evidence base supports the realising of opportunities and planning of other interventions that help to protect and enhance the natural environment for people and nature.

Documenting the creation of the Baseline

As part of developing the baseline, we commissioned our consultant, Natural Capital Solutions, to document our approach and lessons learned in a few different reports. The first of these looks into how the Natural Capital Baseline was created, the second compares whether the use of different techniques or data (e.g. freely accessible or paid for data) makes a significant difference to the creation of a Natural Capital Baseline map, and the third outlines the lessons that have been learnt from this project. All of these reports form a part of our final “framework or toolbox” for developing a natural capital plan. You can find all of these reports in the resources page.
Using the natural capital baseline, we completed an assessment of ecosystem services. The review of tools and approaches set out which scenario each type of natural capital tool would be most appropriate for, and so we were able to decide which tool was best for us to quantify ecosystem services. Using our review as a guide we chose to use a matrix-based approach using the scores developed for Natural England’s Eco-metric (Now called: The Environmental Benefits from Nature Tool). The Environmental Benefits from Nature Tool is an ecosystem services scoring matrix currently being piloted by Natural England that has undergone extensive peer review.
The Environmental Benefits from Nature Tool approach was described in our Natural Capital tool review as being “best for habitat-based natural capital asset register using a simple, replicable method”. It was a good basis for us to understand and present the geographies ecosystem services potential quickly and to provide a foundation for further actions using other approaches if required.

Mapping Opportunities

The overarching objective of LNCP is to enable delivery of environmental protection and enhancement in the area. Baseline mapping of existing environmental assets allowed us to see the most important assets that should be protected, enhanced, and highlight where we need to consider mapping opportunities for environmental improvements that deliver wider and more connected environmental benefits.
We held workshops and discussed the best way to do opportunity mapping with stakeholders to inform how we can best support improvements to the environment via this work. Based on this, we decided to collate the variety of environmental improvement opportunity areas and projects already identified across the area together in a report. We did this to allow those that have developed this thinking and are basing their decision-making on these maps to consider where there is join-up across different sectors and overlapping priorities.
This report highlighted the opportunities and priority areas that exist across the area at the time of creation. By necessity, to make the content visible and meaningful the opportunities have been broken down into various maps although we would encourage organisations to work across these. You can see this report here.

A Natural Capital Account

The Natural Capital Account shows and quantifies some of the value nature provides – both in monetary terms and through highlighting the wider benefits to society. The account and the information used to calculate many of the benefits is derived from our baseline mapping work and includes information about the landscape, pressures and opportunities unique to the area.
The account summary highlights the value of the benefits natural capital provides to society – and all the interlinking and overlapping dependencies, but it also shows the gaps in the evidence and understanding which are just as important. A natural capital approach is about everyone understanding all of the multiple benefits that come from nature, and their value to society up front.
Looking at the flow from assets to services to values is important: if we only focus on the benefits and values in isolation, we miss that it’s the assets we have to look after. The quality and quantity of these assets change over time due to pressures and drivers of change, such as human population growth, climate change, and other factors. This will need to be monitored going forward, but our account provides a snapshot in time and a base for future comparisons to be made.
You can review our Account Summary – A snapshot of the value of nature. We hope that this document helps businesses and organisations within the region understand more about the value of nature. Building on this understanding, we want organisations and individuals to consider how they can build the natural capital approach into their projects and ways of working, and to use our tools and evidence base to maximise investment in the environment.
The full report on the account and our natural capital and ecosystem services evidence base is available here. This tells the story of the development of our data and what that tells us about the natural capital within the geography. Should you want to see the account workings in full, or talk to us about our work on this, please contact us at

Risks and Pressures

This pressures and risk document is intended to be a broad summary of current issues and those likely to arise relating to natural capital in the area. It is not a systematic analysis of impacts, the geographical size of our study area meant that it was not feasible to create a detailed asset register within our project parameters. We believe it would be more appropriate to go into a higher level of detail on a smaller geographical scale. Two main categories of pressure have been identified: Population increase including the development of land for homes & businesses; and Climate Change.