Delivering and embedding

The next stage of the project will focus on ensuring that our physical “plan” (or set of products) is accessible, easy to use, plus integrated into existing frameworks and work where possible i.e. steps 5 and 6 on the approach diagram.  We are already looking into other pieces of work, such as a mapping portal and interactive guidance and support, which will help the various users to build a natural capital approach into their work in line with their objectives. We will continue to work with all our stakeholders to deliver a useable LNCP for the Arc and a framework or blueprint that can be replicated across the country for local natural capital planning.

Applying a Natural Capital approach to planning policy and the growth agenda in the Oxford to Cambridge Arc

Natural Capital & Ecosystem Assessment Pilot Project

After creating a Natural Capital and Ecosystem Services evidence base for the Local Natural Capital Plan we turned our attention to how we can use such evidence to influence planning. Early on in the creation of the LNCP, our stakeholders identified that the key to embedding a natural capital approach within the OxCam Arc was to target the planning system, because new development needs to go through that system. However, when we started conversations with local planners it was difficult because we were talking about a concept, without an evidence base which we could share to help provide substance. Once the LNCP’s evidence base was created, we were in a better position to have informed conversations around natural capital/ecosystems services data with plan makers, because we had examples we could share. This coincided with many local authorities also increasing their natural capital evidence base over the same period.
The Natural Capital and Ecosystem Assessment fund, from DEFRA, provided us with an opportunity to use specialist consultants to investigate how Natural Capital evidence and approaches were currently being used (or could be used) in plan making across the OxCam Arc. We split the work into 5 distinct work packages:
We split the work into 5 distinct work packages:
The key aims of the project were to:
The study has shown us that amongst plan makers there is a high level of support for adopting a natural capital approach in planning, and it can be used as an evolution from the green infrastructure approach. The information that the natural capital approach provides also supports better and more informed decision making around site selection, site designations, and the development of new Natural Capital/environmental planning policies.

Third party pilot projects

Our project funded a number of third party projects which will be used to inform our project, and the overall approach and framework for taking a natural capital approach. These three projects have now been completed and have provided us with their final reports. We are feeding information from these into our Funding and Investment Toolkit as they were trials looking at how we can stimulate and test investment into the environment ; both from Private, Public and Environmental Sector based funding.

Landscape Enterprise Networks

The Landscape Enterprise Network (LENs) approach is an innovative and new approach that aims to link landscape management to the long-term needs of businesses and society by enabling businesses to work together and positively influence the quality and performance of the landscapes in which they operate. The LENs approach looks at the landscape from the perspective of business need – what are the risks and opportunities that landscapes present to businesses and therefore why should they engage. Business interests can range from water quality, resilient crop production, to the health and quality of life for their customers and employees.
We funded the initial scoping work in  Oxfordshire, where 3Keel have worked with the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust to investigate where and how a LENs approach could be applied within the county. Through initial work with Thames Water, Blenheim Palace and Estate, the East West Rail Alliance and Oxfordshire County Council they have identified common goals around biodiversity, water quality, flood management and carbon sequestration that could be addressed through improvements to assets within the landscape, see diagram below. The project is now working to identify potential suppliers within Oxfordshire who could deliver the landscape management these organisations need to meet their common goals.

Natural Capital Investment planning – A review of approaches

One way to sustainable finance and rebuild our natural world for people, a more resilient economy, and increased biodiversity, is to take a natural capital investment approach and develop strategies and plans which bring together the conservation, public and private sectors. There are clear signs that businesses and investors are keen to understand their dependency on the natural environment and how a better understanding of these connections can lead to significant benefits for society and nature, alongside the creation of business value.
Research has shown that there is no single way to develop a natural capital investment plan however the steps below are a guide of the different stages that most natural capital investment plans have followed.
For this reason, we wanted to look at the different approaches, research and recommendations around Natural capital investment planning. To help inform the development of a Doubling Nature Investment Plan (DNIP) in Cambridgeshire, and other potential natural capital investment approaches, our project funded a  study that researched and compared current approaches to natural capital investment planning (ncip) in the UK. The research included most of the current UK ncip approaches and other organisations and individuals working in this field in Cambridgeshire and within the Oxford to Cambridge (OxCam) Arc. It comprised of desk research and interviews covering 22 approaches to ncip with 26 individuals. The research focussed on their approaches, strategies, recommendations, the challenges they faced, the key strengths and weaknesses of their approaches and what advice they would give to a new natural capital investment plan project. This report was produced for the Defra Group OxCam Arc Local Natural Capital Plan team, Natural Cambridgeshire and the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority and will be used by the OxCam LNCP to inform a toolkit on taking a natural capital approach.

Testing approaches to mapping habitat quality and ecosystem condition at a County Scale

It is important to understand the condition of habitats if we are to understand ecosystem service provision and to determine which habitats need intervention to fulfil their potential of supporting flora and fauna. The aims of this project were:
  1. To determine if it was possible to assess condition of habitats at a landscape scale, using existing data and inferences.
  2. To bring together a wide range of data from different sources to create maps of natural capital assets and environmental quality.