Blog: Natural Capital User Guide

Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Natural Course have just launched a new Natural Capital User Guide.

Natural capital tools provide decision makers with the information and evidence to make more informed, joined-up decisions on the protection of the natural environment and investment projects.

Natural Course has been supporting Greater Manchester Combined Authority to use a natural capital approach to identify projects that are attractive to investors, to generate investment in Greater Manchester, and to embed this in growth strategy and policy across the city region. In the early phases of Natural Course, accounts of the Irwell Catchment’s existing natural capital, and a series of ecosystem services opportunity tools were created –  and have since been extended to cover the whole of Greater Manchester.

Research conducted by Natural Course in the summer of 2020 investigated the uptake of these tools to gain a better understanding of how they are being used in decision making, and to try and identify any barriers or limitations to their use.   As a result of the findings, Natural Course and Greater Manchester Combined Authority commissioned The Environment Partnership (TEP) to produce an interactive Natural Capital User Guide.  It is designed to be the ‘go to’ reference point for all things natural capital across Greater Manchester, and aims to help increase user understanding, confidence and uptake of the tools available

To coincide with the launch of the Natural Capital User Guide, we asked Krista Patrick from GMCA and Mike Hodgkinson from TEP to tell us more…

Krista Patrick, Natural Capital Coordinator at GMCA said:

 “We need to prioritise action to protect, maintain and enhance our key natural assets (air, land, water and biodiversity) and the multiple benefits (ecosystem services) they provide.  As part of the Government’s 25-Year Environment Plan, as well as the Natural Course and Urban Pioneer project, Greater Manchester has been testing new tools and methods for investing in and managing the natural environment.

Significant progress has been made in developing a natural capital approach and progressing our priorities.  Tools like Natural Capital Accounts and Ecosystem Services Opportunity Maps, help us to highlight where and how ecosystem services can be enhanced alongside river restoration and economic development projects in and around Greater Manchester.  They also helps us to promote investment in the natural environment by enabling investors, decision makers and land managers to identify opportunities for green infrastructure improvements more easily. 

We know there are lots of tools and resources out there that can sometimes be overwhelming and confusing, so this guide brings them all together into one place and provides further reading materials as well as case studies of how the tools are being used by partners, land managers and community groups.”

Mike Hodgkinson, Associate Director at TEP said:

“It has been a real journey working with GMCA, Natural Course and project partners on the development and promotion of these tools over the past three years, and it is fantastic to see them being adopted and used on projects across the whole city region. 

It is great to see the tools being adopted on projects such as the Our Rivers Our City project, which supports the philosophy of Ecosystem Service and Natural Capital uplift through, for example, Sponge City thinking”.

This user guide has been designed to help all different types of users including Planners, Land Managers, Fund Raisers, Friends Groups, Local Authorities, and Developers to really engage with the tools and the Natural Capital thinking to maximise and prompt their projects.

It was very important to us at TEP that these tools did not become point-in-time research studies, but were useable, functional tools that could help prompt the Natural Capital approach and contribute to the ever-growing list of fantastic and innovative projects and schemes across Greater Manchester.”


The user guide is free to download

More information can be found at