Natural Capital Tool Launched to Help Protect the Environment
In January 2020, Defra launched a new online resource to allow landowners, advisers and policy makers to measure ‘natural capital’ and consider the value of a ‘natural capital approach’. Natural capital can refer to water, soils, minerals, air and wildlife, and using a natural capital approach means making decisions having taken into account the value of the natural environment for people and the economy. The value of natural capital has previously been understated – for example, the value of the services of England’s woodland is estimated at £2.3 billion annually – of this, only 10% is in timber values, with the rest coming from other benefits to society, such as recreation and air pollution removal.
The new resource brings together guidance, data, analytical tools and case studies to enable planning decisions to be made that protect and boost natural capital, in addition to providing a platform for the most up-to-date knowledge. The impacts assessed include ecosystem services such as food production and flood regulation, and environmental impacts such as air pollution and noise – further guidance can be found on the government website.