Natural Course Presents: The Integrated Ecological Network Tool

We are pleased to announce our next ‘Natural Course Presents’ webinar

An Integrated Ecological Network Tool for Lowland Wetlands and Woodlands in Northwest England

Taking place Wednesday 11th August, 12.30 – 13.30 (BST) you are invited to join guest presenter Tom Smart (Natural England) to learn more about the integrated Ecological Network Tool.

Summary of presentation:

Wetland and woodland habitats across the Cheshire to Greater Manchester region have become highly fragmented, reducing habitat connectivity which will be vital as species begin to shift their ranges in response to climate change. Given limited resources, cost-effective prioritisation of habitat restoration/creation will be crucial to deliver both biodiversity benefits and wider ecosystem services such as water quality improvements and flood risk mitigation. As part of Natural Course, Natural England has produced and Integrated Ecological Network Tool to identify priority areas for wetland and woodland habitat creation and restoration, based on the Lawton principles of ‘bigger’, ‘better’, ‘more’ and ‘connected’ habitat networks. When combining this Tool with other data on, for example, priority water bodies for Water Framework Directive interventions, the Tool can be used to identify priorities for nature-based solutions that provide multiple ecosystem service benefits while simultaneously enhancing habitat connectivity for biodiversity.


Tom is a Lead Adviser in the Natural England Cheshire to Lancashire Area Team. He joined in September 2019 after completing a MSc in Biodiversity and Conservation at the University of Leeds. He helped to develop the Ecological Network Tool for lowland wetland and woodland habitats across Cheshire, Merseyside and Greater Manchester, and now focuses on promoting awareness and use of the Tool among partners, and identifying a pipeline of restoration projects informed by the modelling work. Tom currently works part-time, having started a PhD at Durham University and Chester Zoo in October 2020, looking at how zoos can maximise their conservation impact under climate change.