Greater Manchester’s Natural Capital Annual Conference 2018

Representatives from across Greater Manchester’s environment, health, planning, utilities and transport sectors attended the conference, hosted by Manchester Museum, to share evidence for the many benefits found in connecting people with nature and to spark a debate around how we can connect people with nature in Greater Manchester in new and innovative ways.

Anne Selby, Chair of the Natural Capital Group and CEO of The Wildlife Trust for Lancashire, Manchester and North Merseyside opened the event by outlining the importance of natural capital and Greater Manchester’s role as the Government’s Urban Pioneer.

Keynote speakers for the morning included Dominic Higgins, Nature and Wellbeing Manger for The Wildlife Trusts, and Hayley Lever, Strategic Manager for Greater Manchester Moving, who informed us of the many health benefits associated with getting active outdoors.

Outdoor physical activity is vitally important, but we’re currently faced with an ‘inactivity crisis’ in Greater Manchester, which is estimated to generate avoidable costs of almost £59million a year. If we can connect people with nature, we can make a real difference to this burden on the NHS.

The benefits associated with connecting people to nature dominated discussions throughout the day, with Ashley Gorst from Vivid Economics outlining the strong economic case for doing so.

Whilst the natural environment cannot be fully valued economically it is useful to monetise the outcomes, for example, the value of London’s parks to people’s mental, physical and social health and wellbeing is £950 million a year.

“A number of key audiences, including the local planning authority, policy-makers, funders and stakeholders in the community need to be engaged to ensure that interventions are delivered in a cost-effective manner and will generate the outcomes predicted,” stressed Cllr Ganotis.

All presentations and workshop outcomes from the day can be found here. 

In the run-up to the Green Summit, GMCA also warmly welcome thoughts and ideas from the general public on changes necessary for Greater Manchester to achieve its climate change goals. You can have your say by completing this survey and getting involved in the conversation on twitter #GMGreenCity.

“It was great to be able to bring so many experts in nature together for the conference,” reflected Anne Selby.

“We had presentations from a number of existing projects already working hard in Greater Manchester to protect and improve Greater Manchester’s natural assets, and had the opportunity to exchange ideas around potential new projects. It was also lovely to hear that external speakers were impressed by our work in Greater Manchester!”

“Greater Manchester is a very exciting place to be just now,” added Krista Patrick, Natural Capital Coordinator from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority.

“There are so many crucial projects based here, including the EU LIFE funded Natural Course project, which brings together resources and organisations for the benefit of the North-West water environment, and the Urban Pioneer and the Northern Forest initiatives.”

“There’s a lot to do, but we are at a pivotal point where we can start to make significant changes that will benefit Greater Manchester’s future environment.”

To read the full report on the Natural Capital Annual Conference, visit the On The Platform Website.