Natural Course hosts international conference on trialling a Natural Capital approach to fund and deliver environmental benefits

Last week (25-26 April, 2023), Natural Course hosted a successful international engagement event that connected a wide range of over 40 key stakeholders from across Europe.  Delegates from LIFE Projects in Austria, Belgium, Estonia, France, Ireland, Latvia, Poland, Sweden and Wales attended to network and learn from Natural Course about the benefits and opportunities available when taking a Natural Capital approach.

The agenda started with a focus on how to build a Natural Capital evidence base, and included presentations on the:

  • Ecological Network Tool (using spatial modelling to identify priority areas for biodiversity and Natural Capital across the North West River Basin District)
  • Understanding Ecosystem Services opportunities and Natural Capital accounts in Greater Manchester
  • Flood and Coastal Risk Management opportunities in the North West

We then moved on to look at examples of stakeholder engagement with Natural Capital’ with talks on:

  • The BRILliant action plan: Bringing the River Irk to Life
  • Using Natural Capital Farm plans as a catalyst for engagement with landowners
  • The Catchment Based Approach

Day one concluded with an overview of the Mayfield Park development as an example of green resilient growth, discussing how the case was made for environmental investment, the Natural Capital valuation, and the efficiencies created through early engagement.  We then took a site visit to the park and had a guided tour from the architect who created the vision, the U+I Development Director and Senior Policy Officer from Manchester City Council.

Day two was all about ‘Using a Natural Capital approach to develop a business case for environmental improvements’.  A number of case studies were presented to demonstrate successful ventures, including:

  • Resilient Glendermackin- A market led approach to tackling flood risk
  • Using a Natural Capital approach to design and deliver an investable business model: Wyre Catchment Natural Flood Management
  • The Greater Manchester Environment Fund and our approach to Biodiversity Net Gain
  • IGNITION – Building the case for investment in urban nature-based solutions

Craig Higson, Natural Course Programme Manager said…

“This was a fantastic opportunity for us to share with our European colleagues the innovation, progress and successes made by Natural Course in trialling a Natural Capital approach.   We have advanced the field massively in the Northwest by supporting the creation of tools and data that capture the economic value of our natural environment and identify opportunities where multiple environmental and socio-economic benefits can be gained.   Being able to share our work with other LIFE funded projects will hopefully inspire them to take a similar approach in their work”.