Ecological Network Tool expanded to cover the whole of the Northwest

  • New data release for the Ecological Network Tool

  • Spatial extent expanded to cover all catchments in the North West River Basin District

We’re pleased to announce that the development of Natural Course Ecological Network Tool for lowland wetlands and woodlands has been completed, and we have finally received the appropriate permissions to share the GI data with partners.

Since our initial work in Phase 3 (where we covered Cheshire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside), we have expanded the spatial extent of the Tool to cover all 12 catchments of the North West River Basin District where Natural Course focuses its work. Following feedback from partners, we have adapted our approach to connectivity modelling, incorporating elevational gradients as well as south-north latitudinal gradients to reflect the potential for species to disperse towards higher elevations in response to climate change. We have also adapted and improved our modelling of lowland wetland habitat suitability using bespoke code based on modelling methods developed at Durham University.

The new geodatabase includes the GI data, a .lyr file containing suggested symbology; a technical document outlining our rationale, methodology and interpretation of the data; a summary sheet describing each zone identified by the Tool; and an Excel workbook included metadata information.

Tom Smart, Lead Advisor – Urban and Wetlands Team, Natural England said…

“The new and improved Ecological Network Tool now highlights strategic opportunities for wetland and woodland creation across the entire North West River Basin District. As well as this greater spatial extent, we have refined our methodology to make sure the resulting maps are as robust and reliable as possible. The Tool shows where nature based solutions can have the greatest impact for habitat connectivity, driving nature recovery and climate change resilience while also providing the vital ecosystem services that we all rely on.

If you are interested in using the Ecological Network Tool, please contact for more details