Building upon the Natural Capital approach in Greater Manchester


A core theme of Natural Course is using a Natural Capital approach to generate new and greater resources for natural environment projects.

In Phase 2 of the Natural Course project, accounts of the Irwell Catchment’s existing Natural Capital and a series of Ecosystem Services Opportunity tools were created. These useful tools have since been extended to cover the whole of the Greater Manchester city region.

Now in Phase 3, we have two projects that are solely focussed on Natural Capital – both in promoting wider engagement and in generating investment in the region’s Natural Capital, alongside many more projects where a Natural Capital is being taken.

There are a number of Natural Capital Accounts and Ecosystem Service Opportunity Mapping tools available, a number of which are bespoke to Greater Manchester.  These are freely available for funders, policy-makers, project developers, partnerships and infrastructure planners to inform and support their decisions on the protection of the natural environment and investment projects.


Over the summer of 2020, the Natural Course partners conducted a short survey and a number of focus group interviews to investigate the uptake of these tools, gain a better understanding of how they are being used in decision making, and also to try and identify any barriers or limitations to their use.

There was a great response with 25 people responding to the survey and 8 in-depth interviews taking place, which gave a fantastic insight into how and when people are using the tools, what they like about them, and where improvements could be made.  It is clear that stakeholders working within project development, environment assessment and land use decision making in Greater Manchester are engaging positively with the tools and are applying them in a number of different ways to aid with their assessments, such as supporting pre-existing land use assessment methodologies.  We would like to thank everyone who took participated in the surveys and interviews.

As a result of the survey, the Natural Course team is now looking to produce an interactive user guide, with the aim to help increase user understanding, confidence and uptake of the Greater Manchester Natural Capital tools available, as well as other complementary tools.  Look out for more information on this exciting project in spring 2021.